Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 12th Annual American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast sponsored by the Cape Cod and Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross. I could tell you how excited I was to meet the real Captain Richard Phillips (Charming? Check! Funny? Check! Articulate? Check! Hero? Check! And not too hard on the eyes either ). I could tell you about all the interesting people I met at the breakfast and trust me, there were hundreds there, but I want to focus on the heroes. What struck me was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning and say “Hey, I think I will save someone’s life today.” And yet, these remarkable people did just that. Kids who were lifeguards, grieving parents seeing a need for services for wounded veterans, neighbors stepping outside to see what was wrong, a pizza delivery driver on his way to a customer, volunteers at the 2013 Boston Marathon. There were community service heroes who devote their time to others; those who see a need and fill it whether it’s for therapy pets or help for the homeless, or teaching math to individuals with developmental challenges.
Imagine you are customer in a store, just driving along down the road, or a guest at a wedding who ends up saving the life of the father of the groom. The brave first responders, military, police, fire personnel who never know what they will be asked to respond to on land, on the water or in the air. What if you are an organ donor asked to donate to a stranger far away? All good Samaritans in the right place at the right time. All of these and more were recognized for their actions; some placing themselves at great risk by stepping up and helping others.
I am sometimes discouraged by who we, as a culture, choose to worship as heroes. I love, love, love sports, but does having this talent or gift really make you a hero? I am glad to say my faith in common sense was restored by the wonderful tribute these citizens received from their community, our own Cape Cod and the Islands. And to be honest, I consider the work being done by our staff at Latham Centers to be transformative and life-saving as well. While I am not a native Cape Codder, I have always been proud to consider myself a citizen of this beautiful sand bar, living and working amongst so many heroes-- and there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather live. Except of course, in the winter….
"Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary."