I think one of the benefits of the unprecedented times is that for many of us, we have the opportunity to slow down and think about the world around us. One of the things I have been thinking about, is how there are so many every day heroes around us. Too often we use word "hero" when we talk about movie stars, athletes and even social media stars. The reality is that while those folks are talented, they are far from heroes. Right now, they are sitting at home just like many of us. Today's heroes are not working from home. They are not social distancing. They are doing the opposite. They are in the hospitals, in the grocery stores, and in the factories.
About a year ago I heard a story about a hospital ward that was opened soon after the AIDS epidemic began in the early 1980s. This is before anyone knew what was really happening with AIDS, how it was caused, or how it was spread. The only thing people knew is that it was a horrible condition and meant certain death for those that contracted it. The early response was that if patients were treated at all, they were put in special wards, and the caretakers basically wore hazmat suits. In many cases patients were turned away as hospitals denied service due to fear of contamination. Back then AIDS was a 100% death sentence, and if you were around it, it was thought you would get it and die too.
Naturally people where doing everything they could to avoid anyone that might be infected with AIDS/HIV. Then there were the doctors and nurses of Ward 5B at San Francisco General Hospital. This small group of care takers decided to risk their own lives and well being to treat patients with kindness, dignity and human touch. They risked their own lives to make sure that patients felt human, and that their last days would go as comfortably as possible. To me, what these people did was truly heroic.
When I think of heroes, I think of the care givers in Ward 5B. I think of the 911 firemen that ran up the stairs of the twin towers while everyone else was trying to get out. I think of the young men that went into the waters of Omaha beach to face the German machine guns. Today I think about the nurses and doctors with limited equipment working exhausting hours to keep friends, family and neighbors alive. I think of the cashiers and stock clerks at the grocery store that are working long hours and risking their own well being so that we can all stock up on food and stay home.
These are our real heroes and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.