Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What Makes a Hero ?

Today's news reports told the tragic story of a Pittsburg, CA police officer, shot in the line of duty, chasing two suspects from the grocery store bank kiosk they had just robbed in broad daylight. Officer Larry Lasater, a Marine Corps veteran and soon-to-be-father, was removed from life support early this morning when it was learned he could never recover from his injuries. True to his desire to help people and give back to the community, his organs will be donated, so that others can have a chance at a happy, healthier future.

Somber events such as this are exceedingly painful for anyone in the public service industry, and even more so for those who knew the fallen comrade personally. He will be described by those who loved him, knew him, and knew of him, as a hero. Of course he was. He laid down his life doing what he loved - helping others, catching the bad guys, and making the community a safer place to be.

So what makes a hero ?

People in general admire those who willingly take up professions that are dangerous, and who knowingly put their lives on the line to help others. After the tragic loss of so many of New York's bravest on 9/11, this feeling in the general public has been amplified. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and others in the business of serving the community have been moved to the forefront of public and media attention, and given their due respect and admiration. But ask any one of them if they think they are a hero, and they will laugh and say no. Of course they aren't heroes, they will say. They are simply ordinary people, making a living, helping others when they can.

Ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

With only few exceptions, public servants do what they do with a deep, heartfelt passion and dedication to their jobs, and an honest desire to help others and make a difference. However in the end, they are simply doing a job, to put in their day's work, and to go home safely to their families.

A hero is someone who does not want or need that title.

A person does not get into this kind of work expecting to come out a champion, a savior, an idol to be admired and revered by the world for taking brazen risks and putting his life on the line. My studies in EMS and firefighting have taught me that personal safety is always a #1 priority, and those with the 'hero complex' do not last long in the real world.

A person in this industry does not need thanks, awards or recognition from the public for a job well done. Although it is heartwarming and satisfying to be appreciated, he knows, without being told, that he is doing good for others. He does his job as best he knows how, reaches out and helps others with a sincere and dedicated heart, all to make a living and earn a paycheck like everyone else.

The difference ?

He runs into burning buildings when everyone else is running out.

He fights back against robbers, rapists, murderers, drug dealers and criminals.

He pulls people out of the tangled wreckage of their vehicles, bandages their wounds, holds their hands, breathes life back into their bodies.

Why ? Because he can. Because he wants to. Because it energizes him, invigorates him, satisfies him. Because he truly loves his job, his family of coworkers, and the community he serves. Because he knows that he can make a difference, however great or small, in the lives of his fellow human beings.

The flags in and around the town of Pittsburg, CA are flying at half-mast in honor of their fallen officer. This small, tight-knit community is coming together to remember a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, doing what he loved, protecting the public, making a difference. Although his unborn child will never know him personally, he or she will undoubtedly know his legacy. For even though the Officer is no longer with us, he will live on - in the bodies of the people who will receive his selfless gift of organ donation, in the minds of public service agencies across the Bay Area, and in the hearts of those who knew him and were touched by his work.

He will not be forgotten, and in this, he will never truly be gone.

Many of you will have your lives touched by a police officer, a firefighter, a medical worker or someone else in this line of public service. Take the time to thank that person if you can. Don't call them a hero; they won't accept that label. Just tell them you appreciate what they do. It will mean the world to them. And please consider becoming an organ donor. You may give a new life and new hope to someone who otherwise would not have that chance.

Rest in peace, Officer Lasater.

Link to article: [Sfgate]


Blogger Julie said...

I am so sorry for your loss Slinky. Officer Lasater and his family and friends will be in my prayers today.

Your blog was beautiful. Thank you.

April 27, 2005 at 5:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Matthew said...

It was a very thought inspring entry, but I am sorry to say not entirely agree because I think we need to be more specific. There are some firemen I know who do some pretty heroic things and they definitely have the egos to match. They perform the heroic actions, are they heroic. How about the person who simply volunteers at a nursing home not having any friends or relatives there and really helps people be much more happy in their waning years. To them, he is their hero, he is only sacrificing his time. Everyone is a hero at times, either by actions or by who they are, at least to someone, we just don't hear about all of them.

Just my thoughts.

April 28, 2005 at 8:47:00 AM PDT  

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