Our local unsung heroes
December 19, 2013
My son Doug and I had a great Thanksgiving with friends. We held hands together to give the blessing, and then each of us talked about what we were most thankful for. There was quite a nice list from each of us. Our turkey dinner was delicious.
I was thinking about this as I looked at our most recent Lahontan Valley News with the picture of the explosion at Bango Oil and the terrible devastation one of our local families had to endure with a terrible fire that destroyed their apartment. I can't imagine the pain two of our local men and their families are suffering. Then I began thinking about something else.
Do we ever say thank you to our local firefighters, police and sheriff's department personnel, highway patrol troopers, hospital workers, utility employees and last, but not least, the personnel from our own Naval Air Station, all whom are there whenever tragedy befalls us? Let's not forget those fine helicopter pilots from our hospital and the base, who are always there when we need them.
Let's say that somebody — during a bad snow and ice storm — hits a pole and knocks it over. Somebody is injured; the electricity has now darkened half of Churchill County, some phone lines are down. Many of us are watching late night television. At the hospital somebody is having emergency surgery. Who knows, almost anything could be happening?
Yes, I know the hospital has a plan to bring back electricity. However, many people in their homes are fumbling around in the dark trying to remember where they have a candle and some matches. All over this area a multitude of people are getting phone calls, getting out of bed or up from a dinner table, and rushing out the door. They're now voluntarily driving into the face of that terrible storm into unknown danger.
Responders arrive on scene to help people who are injured and extinguishing fires. Police are putting up barricades; utility employees are going to their assorted work places to get the tools needed to put that power pole back up. Others are now doing the dangerous work of attaching wires again, are getting ready to that unenviable task.
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Conversely, all over the county people are still grumbling about the fact that their electricity or phones are still off after half an hour.
Years ago, when my late husband Van worked for the road department in Fresno, Calif., he talked often about idiots who'd try to see how close they could drive their vehicles past him and his co-workers as the painted lines on the county roads. In case you aren't familiar with that area of California, it gets so deeply foggy; you can't see your hand in front of your face. Back then; the road department added something reflective to the paint.
This added glowed from headlights to help people see where they were on the road. Often, Van said, people would scream out of their car windows cussing them and asking why they didn't paint the roads in the nighttime. Hello, people, it's dark at night. How often have we all been guilty of getting upset at the inconvenience of having to take an extra five minutes to get to town while our highway paint crews do this unenviable job?
Now we come to the holidays. Let's just do something, let's just close down the hospital and let go the employees who cook the meals and help the bedridden, let's excuse the local highway patrol, the city police and sheriff's departments for the day, and just to be nice close the restaurants, stores and gas stations during the holidays. OK, just Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Don't these folks have a right to be home with their families as we are on those special days?
I remember when I was alone and decided to wait tables those special days — and incidentally really enjoying doing it — how appreciative people were that I helped serve. But that isn't always the case for all too often we don't begin to say "thank you" to all of those aforementioned folks. So just in case you didn't know, all of you who show up during those hours when the rest of us are enjoying the holidays
Finally, while we're giving thanks for those who give so much to us, let's say a prayer for those who are suffering through severe injuries and reach out to their families.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.