A LOSS OF HEROES
Photo courtesy of AP/The Arizona Republic-Photographer David Kadlubowski
With heavy hearts, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the 19 firefighters who died this weekend in Arizona. It is the most tragic loss of life in battling wild fires in 80 years.
I have a couple of friends in Cambria who were firefighters. It takes something special to do that work. 19 brave souls leave behind grieving family, friends and those they sought to protect. More about them in a moment.
A lot of guys of my generation had their imaginations stirred by the extraordinary adventure of Thor Heyerdahl on the raft Kon Tiki. In 1947 he led an expedition 5,000 miles across the Pacific on a raft. I read the book, watched his academy award winning film and have never forgotten the thrills I sensed. Now the story is told again, on the big screen and is a superb adventure in a well made film.
Heyerdahl, like Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who conquered Mt Everest first, were driven to prove something about the capability of individuals and the power of a vision that challenges conventional wisdom. To paraphrase something, giant strides for men, even larger possibilities for humankind.
There was a time when we celebrated men and women of courage, made them media celebrities and role models. As an increasingly older old boy, I think we should start lifting up medical researchers, test pilots, philanthropists, missionaries and those who challenge the boundaries of knowledge. We can and should divert the spot light away from idols, pop stars, reality exhibitionists, modern celebrities and millionaire athletes.
No one paid Heyerdahl, or Hillary or Chuck Yeager, or Jonas Salk millions to put it all on the line.
And those 19 fire fighters? They were there to protect, save and to do true heroism. I think we are a better society when we recognize our debt to real heroes and when we celebrate true courage.
See you down the trail.