The Search for Heroes – On Orlando


 

crime body copy 2

“As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts — friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives,” he said. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.”  President Barack Obama

sad womanI admit it.  I am overwhelmed by emotions I have been struggling with all week.

As a clinical social worker who worked with domestic violence for twenty-five years helping survivors of it put their lives back together, I became intimately acquainted with the consequences of anger and the choice to embrace violence, and I know how hard it is for victims of violence to recover.

Sandy Hook Candlelight VigilAs a responder to the 9 11 attacks, spending the early weeks at Ground Zero working at an aid station on a girder that fell from the South Tower, I saw the results of terrorism up close and have paid a price for my help in consequences to my own health. But I also saw real heroes, not only in the first responders, but in ordinary people who rushed in to help, in peanut butter sandwiches packed by school children, in those who stood in solidarity with us with candles along our route into the disaster.

sad manAnd as the aunt of an amazing young man who happens to be gay, as someone with a number of gay friends, and someone living in North Carolina seeing the intolerance of the HB2 struggle, I can see the connection between bigotry, irrational fear, and hate crimes. Part of my emotions come from hearing from friends shaken by this event, by the thought that they, too, could have been victims just because of who they love.

So, I am mad and sad and appalled and disappointed and discouraged, but I am not without hope.

Mr. Rogers copy

And if you wonder about that, I will echo Fred Rogers. While the news seems to have been dominated by the unreasoned hatred of one man, amplified by the heartbreak of so many, family, friends, and a community, the good guys were there!

 

Obviously, that starts with the police, and with gratitude that none were killed and police swatonly one injured, though shot in the head, saved by his protective Kevlar helmet. I cannot speak words that match the deep thanksgiving that lives in my heart for the police, firefighters and first responders. Watching them at Ground Zero, I saw their heroism time and again.

But taking Mr. Rogers’ advice, I kept looking and more and more stories of heroes, ordinary men, who acted with courage and saved other’s lives surfaced. Some I found include:

Giving aid copyJohn McGill who after managing to flee from The Pulse nightclub saw another man, injured and bleeding from multiple wounds, trying to run from the building. Stripping the shirt from his own back and taking off the victim’s shirt, he bound up Rodney Sumpter’s wounds. He then got the victim, a bartender at the club, to the police lines. He was asked to lay in a police car with Mr. Sumpter, and keep the bleeding man on top of him, compressing his wounds with his arms and his body until an ambulance could come. This “bear hug” saved Mr. Sumpter’s life.

Imran Yousef, a bouncer at The Pulse, a Marine who only left the military last month, saw that people were trapped in a narrow space near him. He knew they were pressed against a door, but so tightly packed and scared they were frozen. He ran to them, exposing himself to Mateen’s fire, and got them to move so he could open the door and free them all. He is credited with saving dozens of lives.

Surgeon's sneakers copyAnd finally, on last night’s news I heard a story about Dr. Joshua Corsa a surgeon at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.  His own words bring such a powerful perspective they need to shared.  I hope you read them:

“These are my work shoes from Saturday night. They are brand new, not even a week old. I came to work this morning and saw these in the corner my call room, next to the pile of dirty scrubs.

“I had forgotten about them until now. On these shoes, soaked between its fibers, is the blood of 54 innocent human beings. I don’t know which were straight, which were gay, which were black, or which were hispanic. What I do know is that they came to us in wave upon wave of suffering, screaming, and death. And somehow, in that chaos, doctors, nurses, technicians, police, paramedics, and others, performed super human feats of compassion and care. This blood, which poured out of those patients and soaked through my scrubs and shoes, will stain me forever. In these Rorschach patterns of red I will forever see their faces and the faces of those that gave everything they had in those dark hours.

“There is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Some of that work will never end. And while I work I will continue to wear these shoes. And when the last patient leaves our hospital, I will take them off, and I will keep them in my office. I want to see them in front of me every time I go to work. For on June 12, after the worst of humanity reared its evil head, I saw the best of humanity of come fighting right back. I never want to forget that night.”

hands giving securityYou see, as Mr. Rogers’ mother knew in the midst of horror and fear we should look for the  helpers, the ordinary heroes.  They are always there showing us the way.

My thoughts and prayers go out for all the victims, for their families, for the survivors as they continue their long journey to wholeness of body and spirit, and for our country. We are better than this kind of hatred…may the helpers show us a way to share that with each other.

 

 

 

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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29 Responses to The Search for Heroes – On Orlando

  1. Clive says:

    A wonderful piece, Jo, and beautifully written. You bring a perspective to this that few can, and I’m grateful that you shared your knowledge and wisdom so sensitively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks so much, Clive. Things like this are so troubling especially in our current political atmosphere. This one has set off such ripples of pain in the gay community. I just hope we will finally change something. The Democrats were filibustering all night for gun regulations when I went to bed(here that means having to stand and speak without ceasing, though you can yield to another Senator) and they threatened to continue allowing no other business until action is taken. They are in the minority and haven’t gotten through any laws on this in years, so we’ll see. Makes me wish we were more like our “Mother Country” on this issue! Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        The news this morning may be giving us a little hope. The Times (of London, as you know it) reports that the NRA and Trump have both softened their stance to come out in favour of some kind of control on people who are on the terrorist watch list. It’s a small step, and a cynic (such as I) might see this as nothing more than them saying the right words to deflect further criticism. From a non-US perspective, the idea that anyone who is suspected of terrorism can ever have access to arms is utterly ridiculous. Let’s see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        Sadly, even if we do this, it is a minor step. My cynicism says Trump is only doing it to position himself as the broker of an action and to undercut Clinton. But action is action. You are right, it is ridiculous and so is the idea of assault weapons in the hands of ordinary people. I just don’t understand why anyone should own or want to own one. But enough philosophizing on the porch over my morning coffee. Thanks for ‘chatting’ with me, Clive. Hope you have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        My cynicism agrees with yours! Enjoy your morning coffee – I’ve just had lunch and am looking forward to an indolent afternoon. Enjoy your day 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        You, too, Clive 😉

        Like

      • joanneeddy says:

        Dear Clive, I was just listening to the BBC

        Like

      • joanneeddy says:

        Oops. I just heard the news about Jo Cox, MP for Leeds. My thoughts and prayers flying your way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        Thank you. It sounds bad for her, but hopefully isn’t terrorist-related. It goes to prove that nowhere is safe from the determined and the fanatic.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so lovely and touching, Jo. Your posts are always full of wisdom and grace. Thanks for sharing these stories of heroism. I’m certain there are many many more, and you are right that they far outnumber the horrendous choice of one solitary gunman. I didn’t know that you were one of the heroes of 9/11 and thank you for that. I can imagine that the tragic day marked you; we carry all those experiences with us, reverberating in our lives and in the choices we make. Much love to you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks so much, Diana. I did only pick three that most touched me. I wasn’t there “on the day” but led a team of social workers from upstate New York down to help the first responders three days later. I didn’t write about it until the Tenth Anniversary. I couldn’t. I did a post then, In the Ashes of My Brothers, but even so there is much I could never speak about and to this day just seeing firefighters in response gear can bring me tears. I was no hero but took it as a high accolade that they told me I was their adopted sister. I think you and I share a lot. Being with those who are suffering, helping others who are grieving, creates a different kind of awareness of others. Thank you so much for your kind words, a balm to my spirit. Jo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bernadette says:

    Joanne, your post points us in the right direction. We must collectively look past the horror and not despair that the world is filled with many more fine and loving people than destructive individuals. Your writing has helped me to overcome my despair that change will never happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Little Voice says:

    Joanne, thank you. Words have failed me as I have watched the waging of war between fear and love, between hate and unity, between separateness and inclusion. I want to believe that we will open our hearts and embrace all people…I really do want to believe that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rbaldwin0204 says:

    Joanne,

    Thanks for sharing this post. It eloquently expresses the importance of finding the helpers to restore our faith in humanity in the midst of tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks, Robin. At times like this, I think remembering that the majority of people are good…which is why in the long run evil cannot win as you said as well. Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. Jo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Karuna says:

    Thanks so much for writing this post. I had heard about one of the Orlando stories, but not the others. And I am so glad to hear the words of Mr. Rodger’s mother There is much you have said that will stick with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a beautiful, healing reflection, Jo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thejuicenut says:

    A beautiful piece, Jo. Sadly Jo Cox MP died from her wounds. She was shot and stabbed by a man who is reported to have used a makeshift gun he made himself and who may have been mentally ill. But the context is everything and the rhetoric of the EU referendum campaign reaches and affects all, including those of unsound mind. She was a passionate campaigner on behalf of refugees, she was a former aid worker, she worked for Oxfam. The vile and unfactual rhetoric of the Out campaign, especially the poster that came out that morning, twists perceptions and has consequences. It is a sad day for her family and for our democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much for this. I rarely speak on anything political because the rhetoric is so polarizing. Both sides seem to think it’s fine to demonize and marginalize anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    You spoke of people who instead saw others in danger and acted.

    The media reaction reminds me of when a man I was dating back in the 90s who had me listen to Rush Limbagh. (spelling?) I told him that the man made a few good points, but I couldn’t stand the way he made them. It went completely over his head.

    Most sides have a few good points. It seems so sensible to me to look for what we agree on first. I think it comes back to a lack of trust. “Well, if you agree with that, than how can you…” Even when you explain it, with this attitude it’s a waste of time. They’re just looking to win the argument.

    People hardly ever “win” arguments. They may outtalk someone, but it’s not at all the same thing.

    We need to look at other people and see people. Real human beings whose hopes and dreams mean as much to them as mine do to me. I may oppose their goals. I may believe their paths are destructive. I can push for legislation they abhor and vice versa.

    But that’s no reason to insult them. Ever. Or to still their voices.

    Yours or mine may be the next voice cut off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      You are so right! (Though I guess I should say I can echo your sentiments 😉) Iremember that at first my husband thought Limbaugh was just trying to be “entertaining” (I never did.). Now, I think people think Trump is “just” trying to make a point, to create change and doesn’t mean it. I think you could probably flip a coin because it’s probably a combination of belief and a salesman’s pitch to win at any cost. Scares me but some of them are good and caring and also scared by the world they are in. If only we could talk and listen instead of try to win. Thanks for your comments…it’s so nice to “meet” thoughtful reasoning people! Jo

      Like

  10. I didn’t think I could be any angrier or sad or devoid of hope than after the Sandy Hook shooting. But here I am again, frustrated by the fact that nothing,absolutely nothing, has been done to stop this carnage. And now more people are without a loved one – forever. 998 dead from mass shootings since Sandy Hook. All of the shooters were men (only 2 Muslim). This tells me uncategorically that we have a real problem with the young men in this country. And the rich, old, white men in charge are enabling the perpetuation of this problem. Maybe, if we just stop voting for men and seek out some good women to put into office, they’ll make some change for the better? it can’t get worse. Or can it?

    Liked by 1 person

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