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Everyday heroes deserve a few words of thanks

Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 4:59 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Amidst the horrors of the Sandy Hook school shootings were hundreds of everyday people who became quiet heroes, protecting and comforting families and friends who now face a new reality.

Make no mistake: We owe daily thanks to our police, firefighters, ambulance workers and teachers, among others, who keep us — and our children — safe and teach valuable lessons about life, friendship and responsibility.

But our daily lives also are dependent on each other, and among us are people who step up to help those in need, those who hurt and those who grieve. In times of deep distress, their work and words of comfort provide tangible and existential aid.

In the Newtown tragedy, with so few injured and so many dead, those quiet heroes have been the ministers of every faith, social service agency volunteers, counselors, coroners and funeral home workers. Neighbors stepped up right away. A nearby school district donated use of a building so the Sandy Hook children can stay together when they return to class.

Merchants, insurers and bankers cut through the red tape to ease the overwhelming stress to families and communities.

One of the parents, Robbie Parker, spoke eloquently Saturday night, taking time out from his grief to thank airlines and airport customers who overlooked rules and gave up seats to make sure his family was rushed from Utah to Connecticut.

It is very likely that those who responded first, those who helped, those who hugged or baby-sat or cooked a casserole, knew someone at the school, or knew one of the 28 lost. The local Catholic priest counted at least half the first-graders as parishioners; he’d baptized many of them, and witnessed untold grief when the governor explained to parents that their children never would come home.

We owe them, and all those like them, a debt of gratitude and a word of thanks. Whether or not they have helped us personally, they have made the choice — and the sacrifice — to be there when we need them most.

This editorial appeared in The Pantagraph, Bloomington, on Thursday, Dec. 20.

©2012 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)

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