—-Ralph Waldo Emerson
In 1977, Paul Aurandt and Lynne Harvey wrote the book Paul Harvey's the Rest of the Story, and when I found a copy years later I was fascinated. The two writers found famous (and not so famous) people who did things we never would have thought possible, and then they shared these facts with us in fabulously interesting short stories. There was a 1950’s presidential candidate...who killed a teenage girl, and a founding father...who kept his wife locked in a cellar, to name a few. I loved the book and reviewed it many times over in libraries and community centers. It showed me that everyone has a bit of a hero and a bit of a monster lurking inside and once his/her life story is written and looked back upon, everyone will have a moment that truly defines who he/she is.
Some might say that Nicholas Cruz had his moment in Parkland two months ago when he killed seventeen innocent people, but I imagine that was an example of uncontrolled mental illness coupled with too easy access to killing machines. It was students like fifteen year old Anthony Borges who had his defining moment on that Valentine’s Day tragedy.
Anthony was the last of twenty students to enter a room seeking safety. As the rest of the young people found shelter, Anthony turned to lock the door and faced the shooter. Instead of fleeing he blocked the door and was shot five times...no one else in that room was hurt. We don’t know what we would do in any given circumstance, but when faced with the worst, Anthony proved himself a hero.
Yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, James Shaw Jr. was enjoying an evening with his best friend that ended with a Waffle House breakfast in the wee hours of the morning. Suddenly a shot rang out, and he saw a man shooting customers around him. He was able to hide in the bathroom, but when he got his bearings he rushed out and attacked the killer, disarming him and pushing him out of the door. Four people died in that massacre, but many more were saved. He claims he was just saving himself and did what anyone else would have done, but in fact, James Shaw Jr. proved himself a hero.
Facing bullets is not the only way to prove herself heroic. On March 6 of this year I reviewed The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer. I just read an interesting article telling the rest of the story. Meltzer’s high school history teacher, the person who started him on his love of history and writing, was in need of a kidney. Finding organ donors can often prove a fruitless search, and Meltzer decided to reach out to his vast reading audience for help. Meltzer offered to feature the donor as a character in his next book, and a young woman named Amy Waggoner decided to take him up on his offer. She was a match and the rest is more of Meltzer’s beloved history. His teacher is feeling much better after the surgery, and Amy Waggoner proved herself a hero.
On September 11, 412 police officers, firefighters and emergency workers gave their lives as they tried to protect and save the victims of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. They each made a decision that morning to put the lives of others ahead of their own. Although it is expected that rescue workers will put others ahead of themselves, no one knows how he or she will act until faced with a do or die situations. These rescue workers proved themselves heroes.
We can not plan to be a hero. We can not know if the hero lives inside of us. We can only hope that when it is our time to show who we really are, we will show strength and courage and prove ourselves to be heroes in a world that desperately needs people to believe in.
Andy Carpenter is my hero, because he makes me smile. The protagonist of David Rosenfelt’s much loved series made my weekend as I read his latest book, Rescued: An Andy Carpenter Mystery. Once again the reluctant attorney and his band of cohorts solve mystery after mystery while making us smile. In this tumultuous time, sometimes a smile is worth everything. Thanks David...keep up the good work!
As always a complete review of this book follows my blog.