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Do we recognize real heroes among us?

POSTED: March 11, 2013 7:58 p.m.

Newspapers detailed a disturbance recently in a nearby county — thankfully, not our own.


The sheriff there was explaining to his county commission why a bar should have its license revoked for operating after hours. Turns out his deputies had to answer a call about shots fired at this bar. The call came in at 2:05 a.m.


Reading it I recalled something Mama told me a long, long time ago: “Nothing good happens to you if you’re out past midnight.”


Buried in the sixth paragraph of that story was the most incredible part:


Two officers in a patrol car ... tried to drive (toward the bar) when someone ... fired several shots, some of which hit the driver’s side of the car ... The officers got out of the car, spotted a man with a pistol, took him into custody and recovered a weapon.


Just what any of us would have done, right?


Not likely.


The first thing that struck me was what I consider a normal response when someone is shooting at you — especially shooting close enough to put holes in the driver side of your car. If it were me (or probably you), we would have slammed that car in reverse and zig-zagged the other direction as fast as wheels could roll.


But not these deputies.


The action of these officers is so “routine” for someone in their line of work that it drew no special attention in the story, or most likely, afterward. Getting out of their car — after being shot at — seeing the shooter and then taking him into custody takes amazing valor. It’s the kind of courage we see all the time on television and in the movies, but we know that’s not real.


This was.


Those bullets made real holes in that car. Any of them could have killed those deputies really dead. Still, instead of fleeing, these officers got out, apparently faced off with what was probably a drunken gunman, and made a bad situation safer.


Such incredible bravery only rated a tiny mention, without their names being noted, way down in paragraph six. As we know, but seldom notice, such behavior isn’t all that unusual for lawmen.


We talk a lot in this country about bravery and heroes. Too often, though, we fail to recognize those qualities when they’re right in front of us.


Our law enforcement officers exhibit a special kind of courage every day. And what do we do? Ignore them most of the time. Complain too often when they’re not exactly where we want them at the moment we want them.


And that’s not to mention how little we pay them.


Too many of us idolize professional athletes, rock stars and a multitude of other celebrities we, mistakenly, believe to be “heroic” examples.


How well do we show appreciation for most real-life heroes, including the ones who patrol our communities today?


Robert M. Williams Jr. is an Effingham native and publishes newspapers in Blackshear, Alma, McRae, Folkston and Forsyth. Email: rwilliams@atc.cc.

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