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A Nation mourns

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  • A Nation mourns

    I did not write this, but what a true statement.

    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.

    A few 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 a few 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.

    Your doing it right if your doing it
    FOR HIM !!!
    The Ultimate Firehouse

    T-hoe's Fire Protection Page

    USAF Firedawgs

  • #2
    Well put Theo. I wrote a college english paper last year with a similar theme, the question we had to answer was "does the media create todays heroes?"

    Piece of cake, just laid out the facts of todays media heroes and then to drive my point home asked the following 2 questions "can the you (anyone in class) name one Congressional Medal of Honor receipiant or when the last one was awarded?"

    Stunned and stupid silence, one person didn't even know what the CMH was.


    • #3
      Audie Murphy was a CMH recipient, along with every medal the Army bestowed during WWII. Interesting isn't it, I might not have known those facts if he hadn't been a celebrity.

      [This message has been edited by comwhite (edited 02-25-2001).]


      • #4
        "I might not have known those facts if he hadn't been a celebrity."

        Then again, you might have.

        My point is who are the true heroes? The Audie Murphys of this world (before their celebrity) or the people the media choose (e.g. J.Jackson, Clinton, Madonna...).

        They don't have to be CMH winners, firefighters, cops or anything else special. Just regular folk that go day in and day out quietly doing their thing until somebody's needed to step up and take a significant risk for the benefit of their fellow man. Then if it doesn't kill them they quietly fade back into obscurity (example, you can name Murphy, but any of the other roughly 3500 CMH recipients). If it does kill them, maybe their hometown will name a street after them.

        Another example, without doing a search, who is Arland Williams?

        Now, ff you want to, search. You'll read about a true hero by anyones standards.

        [This message has been edited by S. Cook (edited 02-25-2001).]


        • #5
          While on the subject of Congressional Medal of Honor winners, I came across this for a veteran who is still alive and lives in the City of Bayonne, the city in which I work.

          GREGG, STEPHEN R.

          Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 143d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Montelimar, France, 27 August 1944. Entered service at: Bayonne, N.J. Birth: New York, N.Y. G.O. No.: 31, 17 April 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 27 August 1944, in the vicinity of Montelimar, France. As his platoon advanced upon the enemy positions; the leading scout was fired upon and 2d Lt. Gregg (then a Tech. Sgt.) immediately put his machineguns into action to cover the advance of the riflemen. The Germans, who were at close range, threw hand grenades at the riflemen, killing some and wounding 7. Each time a medical aid man attempted to reach the wounded, the Germans fired at him. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, 2d Lt. Gregg took 1 of the light .30-caliber machineguns, and firing from the hip, started boldly up the hill with the medical aid man following him. Although the enemy was throwing hand grenades at him, 2d Lt. Gregg remained and fired into the enemy positions while the medical aid man removed the 7 wounded men to safety. When 2d Lt. Gregg had expended all his ammunition, he was covered by 4 Germans who ordered him to surrender. Since the attention of most of the Germans had been diverted by watching this action, friendly riflemen were able to maneuver into firing positions. One, seeing 2d Lt. Gregg's situation, opened fire on his captors. The 4 Germans hit the ground and thereupon 2d Lt. Gregg recovered a machine pistol from one of the Germans and managed to escape to his other machinegun positions. He manned a gun, firing at his captors, killed 1 of them and wounded the other. This action so discouraged the Germans that the platoon was able to continue its advance up the hill to achieve its objective. The following morning, just prior to daybreak, the Germans launched a strong attack, supported by tanks, in an attempt to drive Company L from the hill. As these tanks moved along the valley and their foot troops advanced up the hill, 2d Lt. Gregg immediately ordered his mortars into action. During the day by careful observation, he was able to direct effective fire on the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties. By late afternoon he had directed 600 rounds when his communication to the mortars was knocked out. Without hesitation he started checking his wires, although the area was under heavy enemy small arms and artillery fire. When he was within 100 yards of his mortar position, 1 of his men informed him that the section had been captured and the Germans were using the mortars to fire on the company. 2d Lt. Gregg with this man and another nearby rifleman started for the gun position where he could see 5 Germans firing his mortars. He ordered the 2 men to cover him, crawled up, threw a hand grenade into the position, and then charged it. The hand grenade killed 1, injured 2, 2d Lt. Gregg took the other 2 prisoners, and put his mortars back into action.

          In my book, this guy is a real hero.

          Kevin M. Fitzhenry, [email protected]
          Firefighter, Truck Co. 2
          City of Bayonne (NJ) FD


          • #6
            I think we may be trying to make the same point only going at it at different directions. I knew who Audie Murphy was because of my father, who was a WWII vet. The point I am trying to make is that just because they are a celebrity doesn't take away from the status of hero. And, just because they serve doesn't necessarily make them a hero to everyone. William Calley would make that example, don't you think?

            That article keeps popping up in several forums, and in my email. Yes, I agree that the media tends to make heroes out of celebrities, and forgets the common man. But, I also think that there are some celebrities who have earned the right to be called hero, such as Murphy, Powell, MLK, and now, even Staubach.

            Put a little twist on the same issue. Would O.J. Simpson's trial have been broadcast across the nation, had it not been for his celebrity status?

            I firmly believe that the majority of our heroes are never heard of. The people we look up to, who have helped make us who we are individually. I don't necessarily know that Earnhardt was a true hero, however his death touched the nation for some reason. Maybe, because we identified with him. I don't know, but for some reason men, women, and children from all walks of life mourned his death. I just don't think it's fair to criticize that sorrow, and make them feel they don't have their priorities straight when they can't name seven men who died in Hawaii.

            By the way, you got me I am going to do a search on Arland Williams.

            >>Now, ff you want to, search. You'll read about a true hero by anyones standards.<<

            I think you know I'm not a firefighter. If that was meant to be sarcastic, I'm sorry you feel that way. If it meant something different, then I apologize for the assumption.


            • #7

              "I think you know I'm not a firefighter."

              No, I didn't know that. If you've mentioned it before I missed it.

              "If it meant something different, then I apologize for the assumption."

              I fat fingered the keys and didn't check the spelling, my fault, I apologize.

              "The point I am trying to make..."

              I agree whole heartedly with your point.

              "Would O.J. Simpson's trial have been broadcast across the nation, had it not been for his celebrity status?"

              No, double murders happen everyday and we only see parts of the trial if it's local or on Court TV.

              "I firmly believe that the majority of our heroes are never heard of."

              We agree.

              "Maybe, because we identified with him." [Earnhardt]

              I'm still trying to figure out how we identify with sports figures, actors an other entertainers. Not to take anything away from Earnhardt fans, but think about it. The same is true for Elvis, Lennon, Morrison and others. Here are people that we have absolutely nothing in common with except we live in the USA, and we cry ourselves to sleep at night over their deaths. And then give fans 2 days of mourning - their birthday and the day they died.

              Yet Joe Citizen that helps an apartment building full of old people get out when it's on fire might get a line in the metro section of the paper and even then it says "Bystander Helps Old People Out." We won't say it outloud, but let's be honest; we identify more with that guy than any celebrity. And if Joe dies helping the old folks, we'll talk about him like a dog when we get back to the station.

              "I just don't think it's fair to criticize that sorrow, and make them feel they don't have their priorities straight when they can't name seven men who died in Hawaii."

              I agree to a certain extent, I'm not about to set peoples priorties. What got me started on this, and I still don't know why, is how it seemed like we let the Ashton Il. LODDs go by without even noticing (I know now there was a post under another topic), but we couldn't say enough about Earnhardt.

              Again comwhite I apologize for slighting you.



              • #8
                We tragically mourn (I personally am not a race fan) the death of Earnhardt. What about when Princess Di was killed? She was a great woman. My mother still cries about it and she has never been to England. But was she a TRUE hero or just a celeb? (I do not mean this slandorus at all!)


                If in doubt - Call us out


                • #9
                  My signature says it all:

                  D. Hager
                  West Trail Amb. Svc
                  Mayville FD


                  We will eat smoke and pull out bodies as long as they continue to build them. Just once I would like them to ask one of us how to build it!!


                  • #10

                    >>I'm still trying to figure out how we identify with sports figures,<<

                    Maybe we see in them something we all desire to be. In Earnhardt's case, he came into the livingrooms every Sunday. He made it a habit to reach out to his fans, and made NASCAR about the fans. He was a farmer, hunter, fisherman, and related to his fans in that way. He was a millionaire several times over, yet what he portrayed was downhome country. His fans saw him as one of them.

                    I wasn't an Earnhardt fan, but love NASCAR. Yesterday when the race started I felt something missing. Was it because I knew Earnhardt wasn't there. I don't think so, other drivers have died, and racing continued on the same as all other days. Earnhardt gave the fans of NASCAR what they were seeking. Enjoyment of the sport. Someone to hate and someone to love.

                    I think the Earnhardt's, Princess Di's, Elvis's, etc. show us that dreams do come true. We see in them simple people who made it to the top. We see in them a challenge to ourselves. Are they heroes, maybe not. Are they examples, maybe not. But, they become a part of us that give us a reason not to give up on our dreams.

                    Oh, and by the way, I'm a politician. Figured you'd know that, just because I wouldn't shut up.


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