Whence the question? It's simple, I suppose: A part of me wants to hear about shining, glorious acts of heroism, and I start to wonder what the call to heroism really is. "For God and Country?" "For Freedom?" Do we need to rally around a standard of liberty in order to become the new heroes of this dark hour?
Those who attacked us certainly must have rallied their feeble spirits with some battle cry. How else could a coward find courage to die for a crime? So what cry will we hearken to? What will bolster our souls in the face of the hard work to come?
I put it to you that we do not need songs, or chants, or even flags, for we are a free people, and we chose the hero's path long ago -- so long ago that many of us don't even recognize that we're on it. And when asked why we do what we do, our answer is simple, and understated:
"I'm just doing my job."
The police officers, firemen, and others who charged into a doomed building, selflessly giving their own lives: "Just doing their job."
The rescue workers, peeling back the horrendous wreckage in the dangerous search for trapped souls: "Just doing their job."
Our president, and the other great leaders of this country, who will not hide or cower in the face of these attacks: "Just doing their job."
The countless thousands of soldiers, transit workers, airline workers, volunteers, and even pizza men who are protecting our cities, feeding our injured, and restoring services to a nation attacked: "Just doing their jobs."
A true hero does not point to his or her own acts and say "I really went out of my way for you." The true hero does not even care if anyone notices. In fact, the true hero may not even be aware that others look to him or her as a shining example. No, heroes just look around, see what needs to be done, and then do it.
The Mayor of New York had to turn away thousands of such heroes. The Red Cross can, for the moment, accomodate no more heroes donating their blood. Only a deep-seated, firmly rooted love could yield so many people wanting to do their job that there was no room for them to help And even then, those of us standing on the sidelines do not feel helpless. The prayers borne from the warm depths of our hearts, and the empowerment borne from the cold cash of our pockets flow freely. After all, we're just doing our job.
There is no fear. There is no hate. There is just the job in front of us, and the knowledge that we still have the liberty to choose to do it, and the love for our fellows to do it well.
And now, a couple of really cool things from Jessica at the Red Cross:
- First, all the info you need if you want to help out, or if you're trying to find someone. She knows the scoop.
- Second, some of her personal impressions, recorded while feeding and watering the rescue effort in lower Manhattan.
Is she a hero? Nah, she's just doing her job.