"In valor there is hope." —Tacitus
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion." —Proverbs 28:1
Like most people over 40, I have a hate-love relationship with the word “hero”, or more correctly, its use… its inappropriate use. Athlete, musician, politician and movie “heroes” (sic) come to mind.
Further, there are heroes—really brave, life-risking folks—who perform at the highest levels of love for their fellow man, even if it means the loss of their own lives.
Some are feted and honored and receive awards such as the Carnegie Medal for heroism (above); this year 22 individuals have been announced as recipients.
More frequent and well-known are law enforcement officers, firefighters and the military honored by their departments and branches of service.
But we’re never aware of most heroes because there are so very, very of them; and it’s a big country/world. It takes a certain set of circumstances to bring specific heroes to our attention. “Sully” Sullenberger comes to mind, but most great heroics are not video taped or even witnessed. Often the story has to be reconstructed because the hero lays dead on a filthy sidewalk having sacrificed all.
Such was the case with Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, 31, a homeless man who was stabbed to death as he came to the aid of a woman being attacked in New York recently.
Police say was stabbed multiple times in the chest. Tale-Yax stepped in as the woman was being assaulted. She was able to run away when the attacked turned his attention to Tale-Yax.
As he bled out, more than 20 passersby were captured on a surveillance tape gawking or ignoring him as they walked by; one sub-human stopped to take a cell-phone photo. And there you have the irony found in any societal collection of human beings, the absolute best and the absolute worst, sometimes in the same picture.
The NYPD has no suspects and the woman Tale-Yax saved has not come forward.
The Distinguished Flying Cross has been awarded to a U.S. Navy pilot who sacrificed his life for his crew after fighting to keep the aircraft level, enabling his three comrades to bail out.
Lieutenant Miroslav "Steven" Zilberman made an instant decision, giving the order to jump when the loss of an engine threw the E-2C Hawkeye, a turbo-prop aircraft loaded with radar equipment, out of control and toward the Arabian Sea.
He went in with his plane and his body was not recovered.
An immigrant from Ukraine, Zilberman is survived by his wife, Katrina Zilberman, their children, Daniel, four, and Sarah, two. A copy of the DFC medal also was given to his parents -- Boris Zilberman and his wife, Anna Sokolov. The family lives in Columbus Ohio.
Zilberman had planned to go on to study medicine and hoped to become an emergency-room doctor… where he would have no doubt saved many more lives in his adopted country.
Cops are heroic so often that the departments often save up the awards and accolades earned and present them all at one ceremony.
Such is the case with the San Jose P.D. I happened to run across in the San Jose Mercury News:
A Manhattan Beach police officer who saved two women from drowning, a Gardena police officer who killed a robber in a crowded restaurant, and 10 Inglewood police officers who rushed inside a burning building to rescue senior citizens will be recognized tomorrow for their bravery.
And you faithful readers knew this was coming…
When a heater ignited the chemicals Alaskan Ben Heinrichs was working with, his shed went up in flames, burning him. He fled the shop and slammed the door to confine the flames, but realizing that his German Shepherd “Buddy” was still inside, Ben went back in to rescue his him.
Fearing the fire would spread to the adjacent house and his parents, the 23-year-old Heinrichs said, “Buddy, we need to get help.”
Meanwhile a responding state trooper, having seen the fireball was stymied. His GPS was inoperative and he was unsure of the fire’s location in the wilds north of Anchorage.
As the trooper began to turn (in the wrong direction) he saw a dog in the road. It was Buddy, and when he saw the trooper’s car, he turned and started running back home, frequently making sure the trooper was following .
Fortunately for your joy and amazement, it was all caught on the trooper’s dashcam here.
Buddy was later awarded a hero’s silver bowl by the State Police… cops recognize a hero when they see one.
And on this website, Napoleon the English Bulldog who defied the breed’s notoriously poor swimming skills to swim out into a lake and rescue a burlap sack containing six abandoned kittens is just one of 25 of our best canine heroes.
See here for all 25 of some of the best of man’s best friends.
In our busy, hectic and often cynical lives, we forget that heroes of all kinds are essential to our lives, our souls; they remind us of the “better angles of our nature” as Lincoln observed.
We would all do well to stand ready to be potential heroes, to do the hard thing when we are called upon by circumstance, morality or instinct.
It’s only fair… clearly, others stand ready to do so for us.