I think about heroes every time I watch the news of Ukraine. I think about a comedian turned actor turned political candidate. He won the presidency by a landslide.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Russians started camping on their borders. They sent everyone, and then everyone else. Tanks, artillery, transports, trucks, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers kept gathering on the border. In February of this year the invasion and bombardments began.
The comedian president was advised to leave and offered a ride. Many expected him to flee with riches, friends and family. Instead, he declined the ride, requested military support, rallied the people and stayed in the fight.
Ukraine was predicted to collapse in a week. Terrible atrocities were alleged and committed with thousands of civilians slaughtered. It looked more like 1942 than 2022. The Ukrainians have been heroes by demonstrating incredible courage and amazing perseverance. The Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, and over two months later the fight continues.
It is easy to look to Ukraine for heroes. It is likewise easy to look to Hollywood, Seal Team 6, and sports figures for heroes. But what about right here in Interior Alaska? We sometimes miss the heroes in our own community. I think of the people who stand in the gap to respond to crisis situations and help people.
I have met many, many heroes here. I have met people who answer the call to go into burning buildings, provide emergency medical care, and run toward the sound of gunfire. Each of these first responders goes toward danger while everyone else runs for safety.
I have also met the people who answer emergency 911 calls and dispatch first responders in times of extreme stress. These heroes hear the need of the person in crisis and send the appropriate assistance. These dispatchers are literally the very first responder with whom a person in crisis speaks.
I have also met brave men and women serving in our nation’s military. I have had the honor and opportunity to listen to soldiers and airmen and their families talk about the stresses and strains of being moved across the nation, or the world, every few years and adjusting to a whole new community. Many of these same people have deployed multiple times. Military and first responders sacrifice greatly to serve.
Stress and sacrifice are big aspects in the life of our first responders and military. Stress is an even greater factor for families of first responders and military. Many of these families simply pray that their hero will return home safely. Sadly, not everyone does.
A police memorial service will be held at Trooper Gabe Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson Memorial Park in North Pole at 11 a.m. May 13.
Take some time to thank and appreciate our heroes for the tremendous difference each one makes every day.
Stephen Reed is pastor of St. Paul Church, 949 Farmers Loop Road. He is also the Fairbanks police and fire department chaplain. Insight is sponsored by Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on May 6, 2022
Married 26 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting