Unlikely Heroes


Last night I watched the finals of American Idol. I wasn’t particularly interested, but I watched. Then Kelly Clarkson sang a new song, and my interest changed. As they say on NPR, in full disclosure, I’m not a big Clarkson fan. It was two lines to the song I Dare You that sealed the deal.

You may not have the stage, but you still have a voice

You may not have the strength, but if you have a choice

I, like most people, have been watching far more news about the pandemic than is good for my mental health. I obsessively watch as the number of cases and death toll rises daily.

There has been something other than the grim statistics and the freely expressed political side taking, where I’ve paid attention. I’ve watched, listened, and cried with the stories of the superhuman bravery of those who are without visible power and yet have stood tall to the challenge. Thanks, has been said many times to the health care workers, food production workers, bus drivers and countless others. An honest out-pouring of gratitude can never be overdone. It needs to be honestly repeated millions more times. Beyond thanks, I believe we also have a responsibility to learn from, and act upon that bravery. We all want this country to thrive. It is not the proprietorship of one political party over another. We all want the United States to be the country in which we are proud, and to know in our hearts it is a place where compassion, honesty, and good will is the norm rather than what sometimes seems to be the exception.

In a few days we will recognize another Memorial Day. I read a Facebook posting today from another vet that said something like this, “Memorial Day is not a day of celebration or a holiday that lets us go to the beach and party. Memorial Day is a day to stop and remember the millions of lives that have been lost in war. A day to mark the sacrifices of the men and women who have given their lives for this country.” I agree completely with this idea.

I would hope that not only on Memorial Day we acknowledge those brave men and women but also stop and honor all who work, suffer and in all too many cases die for their efforts. As Kelly Clarkson sings, “You may not have the stage, but you still have a voice.” We all have a voice, no matter how large or small our stage, to speak truth, compassion and understanding.

I try each day to practice those thoughts, often I fail. I find it difficult to express compassion and understanding towards those in which I sometimes adamantly disagree. I bristle when someone throws out a “Thank you for your service,” like a passer-by mouthing a quick hi and then rushes on to get a Starbucks latte. I know in my heart that it is meant at some level, but there are many times it still stings and rings hollow. Some of the most profound moments in my life have been when I’ve stopped to pay attention and chatted, even if briefly, with a stranger. Some have been vets, many have not.

So, I hope that this horrible disease passes soon. I hope our lives resume to a more normal stance. But just as 9/11, Katrina, the Sandy Hook murders and so many other events have altered our lives, this too will remain forever in our hearts. I also hope that we will stop and pay attention to others, to show a moment of kindness and to thank others for their efforts to make this a better world.

Go well, David