Friday, October 26, 2007

These Are The Real Heroes

As all of you have seen over the past several days, Southern California has been torched by raging wildfires fueled by the infamous Santa Ana winds. The devastation is nothing short of heart-wrenching.

For those of you concerned (or at least wondering), my house is completely safe. I live really close to the beach. Half of LA would have to burn down in order for my house to be threatened.

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However, as safe as I felt, it was still an eerie feeling walking outside to see the midday sky as orange as a sunset, to smell the fresh scent of burning wood when you knew it was not your neighbor’s fireplace but possibly a family’s home, or to feel ash falling from the sky as if they were snowflakes realizing full well that those tiny little pieces could be the remnants of someone’s lifelong dream. How could you not feel guilty about your good fortune when so many others were wondering, “Why me?”

But this tragic and devastating week has reminded me of something we all should remember: Heroes aren’t the sports figures we emulate, the politicians we elect, or the movie stars we idolize.

A real hero is a person who comes to the aid of his fellow man--often a complete stranger-- when they need it the most. As much as these colossal fires have claimed, firefighters and other emergency personnel have saved 100 times more.

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Even as I write these words, I know the men and women who have sacrificed their time, energy and even their lives the past several days will never receive the adulation, appreciation or compensation they deserve. Once the fires have been doused, we will go back to our daily routines of imitating Tiger, stumping for Barack, and reading People. Meanwhile, these real-life heroes will continue to be underappreciated and underpaid.

But heroes have never been worried about such slights. They have much more pressing concerns-- such as rescuing someone else’s future.

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