"if it's good news, it must be someone else's"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

remember robert o'donnell?


remember jessica mcclure?
rings a bell?
was she an actress?
maybe from little house on the prairie?
no, she wasn't but she was a baby once.
baby jessica.
ah yes, baby jessica, who fell into that well.

but who's robert o'donnell?
he was "the" paramedic.
the one who was lowered into the well and brought her out.
he was the hero we'd never forget.
but you did, didn't you?
yeah, i forgot him too.

well. you may remember him now that you've been reminded, but what you probably don't know is that good old robert there shot himself in the mouth with a shotgun.
nearly blew his head completely off.
eight years after we made him a hero.
post traumatic stress disorder at it's ugliest.

we do that a lot.
that is, make ordinary folk heroes for a time and then move on to the next.
doesn't matter much where they do their hero'in either.
landing planes in the hudson river.
surviving ied's in iraq or afghanistan.
savin' lives in oklahoma city or manhattan rubble.
we love makin' heroes.
hell, larry king has made a career of it.

and then, just like that, we pack up and find the next, leaving their post traumatic stress in the uncaring hands of empty fame.
and as a result, many fall invisibly from grace by drugs, alcohol, and/or crime.
and some, like robert, fall completely, their life story summed in a few scripted obit paragraphs in a local weekly newspaper.

and we don't have a clue.
just another self absorbed dead person.
must have been somethin' wrong with him or her to begin with.

well, there was and is something wrong to begin with all right.
but it's always been with us, the hero makers, not those ordinary folks doin' extraordinary deeds.
and what's wrong with us is that we sap these great deeds for all the goodwill they are worth and then dispose of the messy aftermath like leaky batteries that have lost their juice—unrecycled.

robert, while watching live coverage on tv of the oklahoma city bombing heroics (remember that terrorist attack), pointed to a wide shot of the rescue workers scrambling to save lives, nextgen heroes in the works, doing their brave work.
he shook his head and said, "those people are going to need a lot of help for a very long time."

if robert is remembered for anything, that observation might just be it.
in a world of flavored news, political double talk and propaganda disguised as commentary, robert's words are pure in their truth.
these folks need rescuing as much as they have rescued.

look, we need heroes.
not sports mercenaries who are compensated nicely for their physical theatrics.
not movie stars who live insulated and isolated from any real life.
not entertainers, politicians, mtv creations, etc.
but common folk, like robert, like sulley, like the cop on the beat, like the fireman amidst a blaze, like the returning soldier, like the paramedic, like the teacher saving a mind.

and like the folks who survived the chilean mine disaster.

we need 'em because god knows, everything else is just noise, and what ain't noise is fabrication.
we need 'em to feel good about the human spirit.
that when it comes down to it, it's human for human.
our stripes, our flags, our differences are set aside.
human for human.

but we have to stick with them, as robert warned, for the long haul.
because when the hero'in wears off and the wallowin' takes hold and the self fendin' isn't enough, the grace fallin' begins.

my heart goes out to the miners from chile and those who had anything to do with their miraculous survival.
hopefully, they do things differently down there for their heroes.
because up here, i'd give them two weeks of tv studios before we'd get bored and return to lohan, snooki and favre.

let's face it, it took forever to pass a bill to extend healthcare to the people who did their jobs at ground zero.
for nameless heroes.
by shameless politicians.


Randy Johnson said...

I won't forget him again anytime soon. Very nicely written.

Laurie said...

Wow Robert, this is great. I'm going to send a link to my fire/ems/search and rescue kind of friends. They will appreciate exactly what you are saying.

itsmecissy said...

Unfortunately bob, you can’t live in a world of heroes without being surrounded by a few monsters.

Very nice commentary.

Robert Crane said...

itsme and randy, i don't really know what triggered this. i recalled the baby jessica ordeal and wondered what the heck happened to all those folks involved. in general, bad things.

laurie, thanks for sending this along to your friends and i appreciate the comment. i'm not sure what the solution is, i hate to go to legislation of some bill to support these folks when their needs become so invisible, but it could be a start. it just seems like we should be there for them when they were there for us.

and by the way, i'm not typically so cynical and testy. it's usually all smiles around here, at my expense too.