Letter to the editor 1, April 8, 2021
Boulder, Colorado Police officer Eric Talley was a man with everything to live for yet he rushed into a grocery store to rescue strangers from a violent madman with an AR-15-style assault rifle. His act of heroism cost him his life, cost his wife her husband and soulmate, and his seven children their father.
His death brought to mind all the many heroes I’ve read about, heard about, and seen portrayed in movies and television documentaries over my lifetime.
We’ve all heard the stories of a fireman rushing into a burning building and soldiers attacking machine gun nests because so much is made of their bravery, and rightly so. Many of those fortunate enough to survive these unselfish acts of bravery have medals pinned to their chests and newspaper headlines proclaiming their exploits. Unfortunately their bravery is often soon forgotten and the medals that are not framed and hung on the wall are stored at the bottom of sock drawers and the newspaper headlines carpet the bottom of bird cages or start warm fires on cold nights. Sadly our minds are so filled with work, health concerns, relationships, daily chores that need doing, more passwords than used during the entire Second World War and financial worries that our attention span is short and our heroes are buried once again.
In the movie ‘The Sixth Sense’ child actor Haley Joel Osment turned to Bruce Willis and whispered,” I see dead people.”
Thankfully I don’t see dead people everywhere because that would scare the hell out of me – I do, however, see heroes everywhere and that emboldens me.
I see heroes in the friends and relations suffering in silence and doing all they can to show a brave face while putting up a valiant fight against cancer and other deadly diseases.
I see heroes in the mothers and fathers who are so busy doing all they can to guarantee a good life for their children that they pay little attention to the great sacrifices they are making in their own lives.
I see heroes in the children who never stop loving, appreciating, and caring for their parents even when their parents are no longer capable of caring for them.
I see heroes in the many good police officers who continue to put their lives on the line even after being maligned and spat upon due to the actions of the few bad officers who slip through the screening process.
I see heroes in the ambulance drivers who put their personal pain aside to treat the pain of others.
I see heroes in all those who find the strength and courage to go on even after they have lost limbs, eyesight, hearing, control over their bodies and control over their minds and the many happy memories stored there.
I see heroes in the nurses, doctors, teachers, volunteers, farm workers, factory workers, truck drivers, soldiers and the many philanthropists who have shown by their actions that empathy is not just a fancy word to them.
Unlike valiant officers Eric Talley and Brian Sicknick (the officer who died defending the Capitol building) these unsung heroes will never be laid out in honour with those in power parading before their remains. They will probably never be presented with medals nor have their names heralded in newspaper headlines. But they are heroes none the less. I’m sure officers Eric Talley and Brian Sicknick would agree with me on this point.
Armistice Day is the day chosen for honoring our war dead.
Maybe, just maybe, we should consider having an Unsung Heroes’ Day where we take the time to remember, appreciate, and celebrate all the wonderful unsung heroes who fill our lives.
All those wonderful heroes who give more than they take and do all they can to make this world of ours a better place to live in.
As I wrote this letter I overheard the sad news that Capitol Police officer William 'Billy' Evans was murdered while simply doing his job. In the words of Pete Seeger from his beautiful song, ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone?’ I ask my American neighbours, “When will you ever learn?”