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Image of a Hero

This picture is of my friend, Mike Stevens. Mike has worked tirelessly for decades as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He has regaled me with stories both heartwarming and horrifying over the years, but somehow when I saw this picture on Facebook, I got a sudden, clear image of what it must be like to be a first responder with a big heart.

This is a tragic tale, told here, of a fire that devastated the lives of an already disrupted family. The story is heartbreaking in every sense, and the sadness must be overwhelming for everyone involved. In the midst of the fire, the heroics, and the drama, the image of a man trying to resuscitate a little dog stands out. Mike has saved countless lives in his career as an EMT, and has no doubt seen many fade away as well. The image of him trying to save this little dog, though, really shows what kind of man he is.

Dictionary.com defines a hero as a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Certainly the firefighters who battled this blaze put their lives at risk doing so. They are to be commended, as are the two police officers that saved the other dogs from this fire. In my book, anyone who battles fire is pretty heroic just on the basis that they confront that which many of us fear most.

Tragedies seem all to common these days, and it’s far too easy to focus on the horrors and heartbreaks of such events. There is good out there, though, and it goes largely uncelebrated but for the rare occasion when the news finds fit to make a case for heroics. But in every tragedy I am reminded of the following quote from that beacon of childhood goodness, Mr. Rodgers:

There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: ”Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.

Mike is one of those helpers.

Mike would tell you that he is no hero. He would tell you that this was a team effort, and that he wasn’t the one that ran in to try and save this helpless little dog. In fact, he did tell me exactly that Certainly, there was a team of like-minded people involved, and they all came together to help battle this fire and to save lives. Other dogs were rescued by two police officers on the scene. That sounds heroic to me. Sadly, the little dog in the picture did not survive so, perhaps, the word hero is misplaced since Mike couldn’t save the dog. I beg to differ. Why? Because he did everything in his power to try.

Mike always does his best to save a life, and so far as I know, always has. He is the kind of person you want to have around if you get hurt, but even beyond that, he’s just the kind of person you want to have around because he’s just plain fun to be with. Mike will no doubt be embarrassed by my rambling on about him, but in my experience, the people that should be celebrated often aren’t. It broke my heart looking at these pictures, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have tried, and failed, to bring that important little dog back. But he tried; all I did was write about it.

So Mike, though you may reject the label of hero, rest assured I admire you for your brave deeds and noble qualities. Call it what you like, but as far as I’m concerned, the world needs more men like you.

Note: The pictures on this page were taken by Tariq Zehawi, staff photographer for NorthJersey.com. Source: northjersey.com.

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  1. Ted Meeker says:

    Yup, Mike is definately a HERO. In these days where anti-hero’s abound and are rasied on a pedistal, this is the type of story that should be public, and praised. These are the type of people that should be put up to emulate and be proud of. A humble man that does good deeds. A role model for children.

  2. John Seales says:

    Kudos to Mike and the thousands of other men and women that will put thier lives on the line to save another. Ted says it very well in his reply that this sort of man should be a role model for our kids,

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