In Perspective #2
Outpost of Freedom
When I was a kid, just learning how to read, I often picked up a Saturday Evening Post, Life Magazine or Newsweek and thumbed through the pages. I suppose I thought it made me look older -- to read such magazines -- filled with all sorts of big words. What I did, however, was look through all of the magazines for the cartoons. There were always plenty of political cartoons, though they weren't nearly as sophisticated as they are, today.
One of the common themes in many of the cartoons was the "Hero" image that was given to Russians. After all, the Cold War had begun and it was necessary to ridicule the potential enemy by portraying them as stupid, vulgar and without any moral values.
The "Hero" badges were always simple, pound ornaments with a single word, "HERO", conspicuous in bold letters. These badges were awarded for nearly any act, and often the recipient was completely unaware of why he was even receiving the award.
It appeared, to those of us living in a free country, that the Russians were simple-minded, and were prone to praise anyone for anything. However, the American spirit was such that Heroes were those who, with full knowledge of the risks and consequences, would risk life and limb to protect, or save others. After all, most issues of the Congressional Medal of Honor were posthumous in nature -- those, for example, who were willing to die to take out as many of the enemy as possible.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001will stand as a day of heroes -- perhaps the Russians will even read cartoons of the event. But, perhaps we should begin to look at what has happened to our once great nation -- and, its once almost solemn respect for its true heroes.
Perhaps the best way to put this in to perspective is to look at the 200 plus fire-fighters and the dozens of
New York's Finest who had gone into the World Trade Center Towers. Now, I'm not sure why they did go in to the Towers. They had probably been instructed to, or, perhaps, in a period of inability to reason things out, they concluded that they could do some good.
Understand that nobody had any idea that the Towers would collapse, as they did. So, the situation in which these events occurred can be described as a building with a high potential for fire to spread to other floors -- from the initial impact areas. Given these circumstances, it would appear that the most immediate concern would be the evacuation of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. With elevators inoperative and nearly a quarter of a mile of stairs to access the areas which might warrant the firefighter's attention, and this location to be obtained by ascending against an almost panicked flow of people downward, it would seem to me to be an act of stupidity rather than and act of heroism.
Of the accounts which I have heard, the highest level obtained by firefighters was the seventy-first floor. And, this meeting was described with two indelible comments. First was that one of the firefighters was so exhausted that he had turned purple and collapsed as he arrived at the landing. Then, as the chronicler explains, as he continued down the stairs he encountered dozens of baby-faced men in fireman's garb.
Now, just think about the effect it would have on the orderly flow towards escape from the disaster above if heavily suited firemen were running (or walking, or crawling) up the stairs -- the only route of escape. Easily, two lines of downward flow were omitted from the exodus. Three feet of width in which there was no downward flow of people. This, for the seventy floors in which the "heroes" had strung themselves out -- impeding the flow to safety.
Did they really believe that they could run nearly straight up, nearly a quarter of a mile, constantly against the flow of traffic and arrive in any condition to fight a fire? Did it not occur to them that if the fire protection system were operable, there would be a few hardy souls spraying as much water as was available on anything that smoked?
Instead, they prohibited the escape of, perhaps, hundreds of people who will now no longer be able to spend time with their families. Yes, the single column of fireman removed a single strand of egress from those available to the people who had already been caught up in a scene that exceeded even the imagination of
Though the number of policemen was considerably fewer than the firefighters, their necessity on the scene is even less understandable. Have we come to where we cannot live, cannot act, and cannot protect ourselves without the supervision (direction or command) of a policeman? Or, was their intention to limit the speed in which the fleeing multitude exited the building? Perhaps they believed that they could arrive on the scene in time to apprehend the pilot who had flown, so carelessly, into the building.
One factor that does make them equal to the fireman, however, is that they, too, reduced the number of people who would be able to go home to dinner that evening.
Since we must discount the image that these men ran, willingly, into the jaws of danger, we must conclude that their efforts resulted in the loss of additional lives -- and, that an irrational decision, wherever it was made, resulted in what should be considered no less than manslaughter.
Instead, we are imposed upon by societal norms (political correctness) to honor these men as heroes. Well, hero, here is your badge:
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