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Saluting the hero

Updated on January 17, 2012

Heros and babies

Heroism and tribute

There are stories that touch us and are so much ingrained in our mind that we are connected to it through an incredible photograph or a video broadcast that just brings us there as if it just happened no matter how many years have passed and makes us realize how precious life is. Sometimes the outcome of the event is miraculous and other times heartbreaking. As I think back to some events that I witnessed through the years I can't help but share my thoughts and feelings and write about them as I remember them.

Baby Jessica McClure managed to fall into a well in 1987 at an opening only 8 inches in diameter while playing in her back yard and descended more than 20 feet down the shaft to the horror of her mother who left her for a moment to answer a call. What happened next through the wonders of 24 hour broadcasting was a magical and miraculous rescue effort that took more than 2 days and brought a whole community together in a way only Hollywood could script but this was a real story that captured a nation because it centered around a baby and a community doing all they could to save her and it became a movie for its compelling and wonderful outcome.

The image is forever in my mind because it is a sign of absolute hope, joy, relief and celebration in the aftermath of a tense and lengthy rescue effort that tested the will, patience and heart of men and women who came to the rescue of a baby girl trapped in a well. It was heartwarming to see the rescue team committed to the effort as the baby girl's family looked on in quiet desperation as neighbors joined in to lend their support, encouragement and compassion as the rescue teams worked tirelessly with only one thing in mind which was to rescue baby Jessica. It was an incredible moment when she was brought up from the well alive by a rescue worker because it captivated all of America fixated on this small town of Midland, Texas where a community came together to inspire and save a precious life.

It taught us what is most important which is the safety of our children and the triumph of the human spirit. When the news brought us front and center with the rescue and as we waited for signs of the baby girl what we saw was an incredible event that brought tears to my eyes as I saw the rescue worker clutching the baby girl with her arm secured and her body bandaged after her long ordeal to the cheers of all who came out to be there and help out in some way. It was very emotional and very special and it tugged at my heart and made me realize that ordinary people do perform heroic deeds and really do step up in times of crisis.

Another photograph that resonated with us and broke our hearts was the picture of a bloodied baby girl, Baylee Almon who died later that day at the hospital, cradled in the arms of a firefighter, Chris Fields at the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah building site in the aftermath of a deliberate bombing that claimed the lives of hundreds including young children and babies at the nursery. It was one of the worst acts of terrorism on American soil and was carried out by a former army soldier, Tim McVeigh who had fought in the Gulf war. It was indescribable seeing the horrors of the destroyed building and the incalculable loss of human life that shocked us all as we realized all the innocent people and the poor children that perished that awful day of April 19, 1995.

Acts of heroism reassure us that human nature does have a wonderful side in the face of crisis and that good always triumphs over evil and makes us realize that unfortunately there will be times when we will be witnesses to human suffering whether in the wake of deliberate acts of terrorism, natural disasters or unforeseen accidents. We must always be thankful to the proud men and women who put their lives in danger every day to make us feel safer and to know that they will always be there to perform rescue whenever they answer the call. We saw it with the rescue of Baby Jessica, We saw it with the rescue attempts in Oklahoma City and at the World Trade Center and we see it every time a fire truck is en-route to a fire. We salute these heroes and should be grateful every day for their actions which is something we should never take for granted.

Thank you to all the heroes who simply say they were just doing their job! This is dedicated to Robert O'Donnell, one of the paramedics responsible for saving baby Jessica McClure, who sadly committed suicide in 1995. He was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He was a true hero in every sense of the word. 

Edward D. Iannielli III

Baby Jessica McClure Rescue

Oklahoma City bombing tragedy - 15 years later

Precious child - Karen Taylor


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Thank you for this reminder of the heroes in our lives--those who walk among us and those that have passed over. What each of them has in common is a selflessness that enriches the lives of all of us.


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