The word “hero” has been bandied about recently in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Webster defines “hero” as, “A man admired for his achievements and qualities.” Dictionary.com defines “hero” as, “A person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.” Maybe, the definition of a “hero” could also be, “An ordinary person doing extraordinary things.” For example, Sgt. York in WWI, Audie Murphy in WWII, Jorge Otero Barreto in Vietnam, Pat Tillman and Chris Kyle in Iraq. These were ordinary individuals who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.
You cannot watch television during these times and not see commercials thanking our “heroes,” those people on the front lines, for their service. Pictures of doctors, nurses, truck drivers, teachers, cashiers, firefighters, police officers and paramedics are flashed across the screen. You see a collage of actors and professional athletes thanking and praising people in occupations they often might hold in distain. Maybe these “stars” have had a change of heart and are truly thankful. Or maybe, because they are not working, they are making these videos so the shuffling masses who buy their products can still see them and, in this way, these “stars” can remain significant.
What were these front-line workers, these heroes, before the pandemic? Were the nurses really, as Washington State Senator Maureen Walsh described: “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” The backlash from nursing professionals that followed this statement was understandable. Washington State Department of Health published the following statistics as of 04/24/2020: 12,077 confirmed cases, 723 deaths, 160,324 total tests. During this pandemic, State Senator Walsh has been eerily quiet. Were police officers really as Black leadership described when a White police officer is forced to shoot a Black suspect? In the midst of this pandemic, where Black Americans are dying at a higher rate than White Americans and Hispanic Americans due to their increased risk factors, Black leadership has been eerily quiet. Were teachers really incapable of teaching, assessing student outcomes, and managing their classrooms to the point where politicians felt the need to step in and dictate how a classroom should be conducted? These are the same teachers who had to convert all of their classes to an online format in a very short period of time to keep educating their students because the schools were closed. On this point, politicians have been eerily quiet. Were truckers really the reckless, endangering, negligent drivers that liability attorneys depict in their commercials? Now, however, these same attorneys are praising said drivers for working during the pandemic. Were cashiers really the slow, incompetent, knuckleheads deserving the ire of shoppers which is readily apparent to anyone who has ever shopped at, say, Walmart? Now such front-line workers are considered heroes.
These police officers, correctional officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and others on the front lines are not heroes because they are working during this pandemic. They are heroes because they get up every day, grab their gear, and go to work. They work during hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Maybe a hero is someone who goes unnoticed until the time and place are right for them to be noticed!