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Boston Hearald Article About Comparing Earnhardt to Firefighters and Police Officers

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  • Boston Hearald Article About Comparing Earnhardt to Firefighters and Police Officers

    Recieved and e-mail today about this article printed in the Boston Herald Just wanted to know what you think?

    The story below was printed in the Boston Herald on Wednesday, 2/21/01

    Losing track of our real heroes
    by Steve Buckley
    Boston Herald
    Wednesday, February 21, 2001

    Each day, dozens of people call the Herald's sports department with all
    kinds of questions, complaints, observations and suggestions. Yesterday, not
    surprisingly, more than a few folks phoned in with comments about NASCAR
    driver Dale Earnhardt, who was killed Sunday afternoon at Daytona
    International Speedway.

    Most of the calls were civil, and well-reasoned. But when people start
    dredging up the same old arguments about how Earnhardt was a ``hero,'' it
    just gets so silly. To top things off, several people called yesterday and -
    we are not making this up - compared the death of Dale Earnhardt to the
    deaths of the Worcester firefighters.

    Somebody else compared them with police officers. Same story. Racecar
    drivers, like police officers, are heroes. Racecar drivers, like police
    officers, put their lives on the line each day.

    Have we all lost our minds? Comparing a racecar driver with six Worcester
    firefighters who lost their lives in a warehouse fire? Comparing a racecar
    driver with . . . cops?

    Understand this about Dale Earnhardt: He was one of the superstars of his
    profession, a successful, well-liked performer who had a huge following
    throughout the Winston Cup circuit. What he did, he did well. And we're all
    very sorry he died.

    But a hero?

    Let's go step by step with this.

    This is the deal with racecar drivers: They do what they do because it's a
    thrilling, high-stakes business, offering fame, lots of travel and, yes,
    absolutely, the chance to make millions of dollars.

    This is the deal with firefighters: They are working stiffs. Like most
    people, they scrimp and save and line up alternative sources of income in
    order to buy a house, raise a family, maybe go on a vacation once a year to
    Hampton Beach or Disney World. Racecar drivers ``put their lives on the
    line'' by climbing behind the wheel of a race car.

    Firefighters ``put their lives on the line'' by going into a burning
    building in order to save lives.

    Heck, sometimes firefighters lose their lives when a building isn't even on
    fire. In 1972, following a fire at the Hotel Vendome, nine Boston
    firefighters lost their lives when the building's southeast wall collapsed
    on them while they were overhauling the structure.

    They were working men, holding down second jobs to make ends meet. Huck
    Hanbury ran a little bar in the South End. Richard Magee worked in the parts
    department of a Ford dealership in Cambridge. Paul Murphy worked part-time
    at a Somerville packie.

    They left a total of 23 children. Joseph Boucher, at 27 the youngest of the
    nine, was awaiting the birth of his first child. Joe Saniuk, the only one of
    the nine who wasn't married, was talking about tying the knot with Corrine

    These guys, all nine of them, were heroes.

    It's the same with the Worcester firefighters. They had wives and kids and
    mortgages and second jobs. And when they got the call, they went into that
    blazing warehouse, no questions asked, no press conferences, no autographs,
    because that's what they were being paid to do. Those six Worcester
    firefighters didn't have bonuses or endorsement deals waiting for them,
    either. They were pulling down a paycheck.

    And . . . what? We want to compare racecar drivers with these guys? Take
    away the Winston Cup, and, while there'd be a lot of very sad, upset racing
    fans, we wouldn't have a national crisis on our hands. Take away the cops
    and the jakes, and our entire way of life would be threatened. It's that

    If you want to mourn the death of Dale Earnhardt, do so. Send flowers. Say a
    prayer. Light a candle. But, please, let's not make a mockery of this man's
    death with a lot of blathering about what a great hero he was.

    Given his stature and success, Dale Earnhardt could have walked away from
    the Winston Cup circuit and still had plenty of money to raise his family.
    He chose to keep racing. It was his choice, but not a choice that makes him
    a hero.

    When a police officer or a firefighter leaves the job, guess what? They have
    to find another job. And we're not talking about becoming color analysts or
    sportscasters or Madison Avenue pitchmen.

    See, the last time I checked, nobody was offering a Worcester firefighter $1
    million to appear on television holding a container of Valvoline in his
    hands. Heroes - that is, real heroes - just don't command that kind of dough
    in the real world.

    Link to original on-line story:

  • #2
    Let me begin by saying that I don't want to cause any hate and discontent here.
    I am not going to say that the only people who can be considered heroes are firefighters, cops, EMT's, doctors, etc., just because they literally hold lives in their hands. And I'm not going to rummage through Websters to find the definition of "hero", which I'm sure someone here will do. To ME, ANYONE who serves as a positive role model to people is considered a hero. To hold the title of hero for people such as you and I is just selfish. I'm not saying that the firefighters who have died in the line of duty aren't heroes because they are. Dale Earnhardt served as a role model to MILLIONS of people, as do firefighters. This is such a hard thing to write about, and I'm not really sure how to word it without offending anyone. Just because Mr Earnhardt didn't run into buildings of fire, or run into buildings of bullets, doesn't make him any less of a hero. He touched so many lives. And if he kept one kid off the streets by getting them to watch him race around in that #3 black and silver Chevy, then he kept one kid away from violence, or drugs, or a criminal record. And to me, that is a life saved. A life saved by a man who loved to do what he did best, something that he probably decided to do as a kid too.

    Take care, stay safe, & stay low!

    Lt. Spinney


    • #3
      Thank you Truckie Trash for your post.

      If we all agree with this story go to Steve Buckley's guestbook and thank him.
      And please take a look at what people are writing about our profession.

      "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." STAY SAFE,STAY LOW


      • #4
        I'm with smokeeater on this one! It is damned difficult to talk about this subject without treading on someone's toes and I absolutely do not want to do that. There will always be people who see things differently and that is what makes us all individuals but to me, anyone who can face down the fear of driving at Daytona and do it with the skill and competence of Dale Earnhardt is a special type of person. Although I appreciate the nice things that the editorial writer said about us, anyone who has been around the block a few times in this occupation would feel an empathy with a professional who is following his unquestionably dangerous calling not with foolish bravado, but with deliberate skill and always striving to do better. Dale may have been well paid and famous, but I have seen many heroes who receive far less recognition than firefighters. Let us just remember him for who he was and leave the labels for the preserves.
        Jim Maclean


        • #5
          While I agree with the article that you can't compare racing with firefighting or law enforcement, a hero is still hero. Did Dale Earnhardt rush into burning buildings, or capture a murderer? No, but he did exemplify what hard work and perseverance could accomplish.

          Dale Earnhardt's status of hero was not accomplished through his deeds, but more through his mentality. He proved that you could make your dreams reality. He showed us that you could be a sports superstar and still remember who made you that superstar. He became the mark that others tried to acheive in that sports.

          I wasn't an Earnhardt fan, but I respected the man and the driver. I listened to the Fox memorial yesterday, and heard the statement, "I cheered when he crashed and cried when he died". I guess that pretty much sums up how a lot of us were. He was the competition, he was the man to beat, he was the man we cursed for taking our car out, he was the man we loved to hate. Yet, at his death we all saw a piece of our dream die, we literally saw the best could be beat by death.

          If you think of a hero by his deeds, then maybe Earnhardt wasn't a hero. But, if you look at a hero who is someone you can look up, want to be like, and causes even his 'enemies" to cry at his death, then Earnhardt was a hero.


          • #6
            Personally, Dale is one of my heroes. As a firefighter for over 10 years, I would have been speechless to actually meet him. Yeah, our jobs are different, but any different than the paid vs vollie argument, or NYFD vs DCFD? There should be a mutual respect, for I really don't think that any of us are much different. Racing was Dale's gift, just like not everyone can be a firefighter. I would also hold racing apart from baseball, basketball and football. I cannot remember when I last heard of a driver going on strike for more $ (baseball), using drugs (Darryl Strawberry), being involved with murder (Ray Lewis and Carruth), etc.
            In my closing, I feel he truly was a hero and will continue to be one to many.


            • #7
              I received this in my e-mail today. I will paste it in it's entirety. A little long, but makes you think.

              "All you Earnhardt fans crying in your beer, riddle me this...

              On 18 February 2001, while racing for fame and fortune, Dale Earnhardt died
              in the last lap of the Daytona 500. It was surely a tragedy for his
              family, friends and fans. He was 49 years old with grown children, one,
              which was in the race. I am new to the NASCAR culture so much of what I
              know has come from the newspaper and TV. He was a winner and earned
              everything he had. This included more than "$41 million in winnings and
              ten times that from endorsements and souvenir sales". He had a beautiful
              home and a private jet. He drove the most sophisticated cars allowed and
              every part was inspected and replaced as soon as there was any evidence of
              wear. This is normally fully funded by the car and team sponsors. Today,
              there is no TV station that does not constantly remind us of his tragic end
              and the radio already has a song of tribute to this winning
              driver. Nothing should be taken away from this man, he was a professional
              and the best in his profession. He was in a very dangerous business but
              the rewards were great.

              Two weeks ago seven U.S. Army soldiers died in a training accident when two
              UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters collided during night maneuvers in Hawaii. The
              soldiers were all in their twenties, pilots, crewchiefs and
              infantrymen. Most of them lived in sub-standard housing. If you add their
              actual duty hours (in the field, deployed) they probably earn something
              close to minimum wage. The aircraft they were in were between 15 and 20
              years old. Many times parts were not available to keep them in good shape
              due to funding. They were involved in the extremely dangerous business of
              flying in the Kuhuku mountains at night. It only gets worse when the
              weather moves in as it did that night. Most times no one is there with a
              yellow or red flag to slow things down when it gets critical. Their
              children where mostly toddlers who will lose all memory of who "Daddy" was
              as they grow up. They died training to defend our freedom.

              I take nothing away from Dale Earnhardt but ask you to perform this simple
              test. Ask any of your friends if they know who was the NASCAR driver
              killed on 18 February 2001. Then ask them if they can name one of the
              seven soldiers who died in Hawaii two weeks ago.

              18 February 2001, Dale Earnhardt died driving for fame and glory at the
              Daytona 500. The nation mourns.

              Seven soldiers died training to protect our freedom. No one can remember
              their names and most don't even remember the incident.

              Enjoy your day."

              [This message has been edited by iwood51 (edited 02-23-2001).]


              • #8
                WOW, this is a touchy subject, yet one that i believe requires a great deal of attention. Yes, Dale Earnhardt (im sorry if i mispelled it) was a hero, as are firefighters, police officers, EMT's, and military personel, but i view Dale Earnhardt as a hero to the fans, and for being a role model. The civil servants, and military personel, are heros in and of themselves, just for dedicating their lives, time, and everything else in the world to there beliefs and professions. I must comment on iwood51's post. I AGREE FULLY WITH YOUR POST,i find it sad to come to the realization that a sports star has come to higher fame/importance than the honor, dedication, loyalty, etc. of our TRUE heros, (as i said before) that give their lives for life, liberty, freedom, justice, fraternity, and EVERYTHING else beautiful in the is excellant nation. I MYSELF, think that the Constitution, and our freedom, comes before ANY sporting event, and i believe that a TRU hero, should be someone who will knowingly give his/her life for the preservation of it.

                O.K.-im sorry if i stepped on anyones posts, cuz this is my beliefs, and dont take them as an attack on yours.As always needed now and days DISCLAIMER: these are my views, no one elses, and do not express the views of my department, or any other affiliated instituion.By the way, if this means anything, im only 16.

                Thank You, Wayne(Fire Explorer, MTFD)


                • #9
                  Having just participated in the funerals for two Centerville, MD deputies who were gunned down during a 'routine' noise complaint, I will reserve my tears for those who deserve them.

                  I do not doubt that many hold entertainers as true heroes...it just makes me sad.

                  Negative, I am a meat popsicle.


                  • #10
                    I will try to be diplomatic about this. I have been a motor racing fan for more then 25 years, although not Nascar. As a professional firefighter I do not consider myself a hero, just a working man who has a sometimes difficult and dangerous job, But I will repeat a refrain that I here quite often around the stations. If I HAVE to be killed in the line of duty. I hope it will be trying to save someone's life, not trying to save someone's property, or by someone's carelessness,or by a car in the wrong place
                    at the wrong time. Or driving a racing car.
                    Just my opinion.


                    • #11
                      Bravo Iwood!... pretty much sums it up. How could a person be described as a hero when he is out there for himself? Wouldn't a hero be described as giving it up for others? As far as him trying to let his son and Waltrip win... they were in his cars right? Mo Money!... Im not a NASCAR fan, but I respect Earnhart as a great driver and the best in his business, and to his fans, they may have saw him as a hero, but I agree with the Boston Herald article and Iwood..


                      • #12
                        Is there some confusion here between the word hero and celebrity? I in know way believe the man to be a hero, a successful race car driver and businessman sure. No one is a hero till they earn that title and driving a race car and making cash doesn't qualify in my books. The article sums it up when it says "heroes-real heroes just do not command, that amount of respect in the real world"


                        • #13
                          I do agree, but then I don't agree with this article. As a Nascar fan I cried and sobbed over the death of #3 but life will for sure move on. Dale was a hero to people because he was a fierce competitor, he lived the right way, you never saw him in trouble with the law like many of todays athletes. Dale hated to loose, he wanted to win all the time and would work his a## off to win, even against is son and friends.

                          He can be compared with many ff's we love to compete, we hate to loose, weather a house, an apartment, or grandpa lying on the floor. We will do what it takes to win, we train we train, and we train, then use technology to help us win.

                          The loss of dale saddens many in the racing world, it can be compared to loosing the Worcester six in a way that dale got in that car to go out and do his job, to win, to drive and to compete. Those late men in Worcester were heroes to friends, to family, and to the community. Dale Earnhardt was a hero to friends family, and the NASCAR family. Sunday will be a tough day, no # 3 at the rock, but dale just like the Worcester six will never, never, never be forgotten, and will always be regarded as heroes.

                          Kevin Wiseman
                          Oklahoma State University School Of Fire Protection
                          Ponderosa FD, Houston Texas


                          • #14
                            Would the death of Colin Powell be any less tragedy than that of those seven men? Would he be any more a heroe than any of them? No, he is more recognizable to us. His death would impact more people because of his familiarity.

                            Dale Earnhardt came into the homes of NASCAR fans each Sunday. Fans grew to know him on a first name basis, and followed his career as closely as they followed their own. He became a role model for the children and young people that followed him, and he took that seriously.

                            Yes, I agree he doesn't fall into the category of firefighter, soldier, or law enforcement, but in his own right he proved himself legitimate of the right to called a heroe to some.


                            • #15
                              Good Article Iwood, Truckie Trash...I tend to agree that it is real hard to consider athletes and celebrities as heroes...they do something special but usually for just themselves..to be a hero I believe you give of yourself to someone in need... God Bless the soldiers who lost their lives protecting ours In Hawaii...Stay Safe..


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