The images have been all over the national news, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and on the front pages of hundreds of newspaper across the county: the faces of firefighters, EMS workers, National Guardsmen and citizens, all working together to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
We’ve seen them whisk people from whirling chest-high waters, lifting them to the safety of a helicopter; we’ve seen them maneuver personal boats and jet skis through 4-5 feet of water on what would normally be dry streets, rescuing people who fled to rooftops to escape the rising flood; and we’ve seen them swim through rapidly growing waters to pull men, women,children, the elderly and family pets to dryer ground.
The images have brought tears, sadness and joy, and they have reminded us of how very precious life is, and how very fleeting it can be. In an instant, catastrophes can happen and a normal, everyday life can somehow be turned upside down.
People in North Carolina know what we mean, many having survived similar, though not as devastating, storms like last year’s Hurricane Matthew.
The images remind us of what is important, and somehow the controversies we’ve seen and read about for the past few weeks don’t seem nearly as important; the fights, the divides, the bruised egos somehow have disappeared as people have focused on helping one another with extraordinary displays of love, courage, encouragement, kindness and generosity.
The rescues haven’t been about skin color, political parties, gender or sexual preferences, money or power; they’ve been about saving lives, providing shelter, offering a hug and helping those who cannot help themselves.
It has reminded us of the good in people; the love that surpasses the issues that extremists would prefer us to worry about.
And it has shown us the real heroes. They aren’t rock stars or movie idols, athletic gods or the rich and famous. Real heroes are the men and women who roll up their shirtsleeves and answer the call to help, whether they are in the National Guard or a member of a local fire department, whether they are a police officer or an emergency services worker; whether they are your neighbors or strangers.
In Texas it’s neighbor helping neighbor to get through the worst tragedy of their lives.
Storms like Harvey are devastating, tragedies that seem unending. But out of these storms always comes a rainbow of hope and a needed reminder of the things which are most important in life. We hate it takes the worst to bring out the best, but we are thankful that the best in people still rises to the top.