Heroes Near and Far

Posted in: President's Press Box

How special it was to have Norm Birzer sing the National Anthem for our invocation and sing in a key that we all could join in! Norm, who was one of our greeters, chose to do his 60 seconds by sharing his singing talent.  He has a wonderful voice and shared that he is patriotic, likes to sing and feels that saying less is best.  I appreciate your approach, Norm!

Our other greeter, Greg Brown, gave insight into working from the bottom of the totem pole. As an engineering student at Drexel University, Greg participated in a cooperative work experience on the Chesapeake Bay with the Army Corps of Engineers. This experience included carrying antennas to the top of lighthouses and satellite towers. But his biggest challenge was staying awake as the TIDE MAN-  sitting on the shore with a measuring stick and radioing in the minimum level of water every 3-5 minutes!  Greg said he had nightmares of falling asleep. I can’t imagine the endurance this job demanded. Congrats Greg for being the TIDE MAN and not falling asleep on the job!

Two additional greeters (of the canine variety) joined Norm and Greg. They were well behaved and welcoming labs named Gracie Hopper and Radar O’Reilly. Gracie and Radar are hero dogs who are trained to improve the quality of life for wounded soldiers who are America’s freedom heroes. Dr. Jennifer Lund, who started Hero Dogs two and a half years ago, was joined by her kennel trainer, Becca Cooper. They demonstrated the skills of Gracie and Radar as these hero dogs turned light switches on and off, fetched keys and coins, assisted Jennifer with taking off her coat and helping her stand. It was quite amazing to watch.  Dr. Lund’s organization relies on donations of puppies from local breeders and volunteers to be puppy raisers from 8- 12 weeks old to 14 months old. From there the puppies spend 8 months in the training facility learning specific tasks to perform. Once that training is completed, the dog is matched with a wounded veteran based on temperament, lifestyle and energy. There is intense training followed by graduation of the veteran and his/her hero dog. It was quite a treat to see Gracie and Radar in action and know that these exceptional dogs are giving independent life back to our wounded veterans. To learn more about hero dogs and how to support, go to hero-dogs.org.

Heroes were present last week also in Boston as three people were killed and more than two hundred fifty bystanders were injured. Runners dashed to the hospital to give blood and many individuals went into action to care for the wounded while rescue personnel arrived. When the ordeal of hunting for the suspects was over, crowds responded by cheering for their community and the USA. It is a reminder that we can all be heroes of compassion each day.

Recently, while at Nick Damoulakis ‘s office, I saw a  sign for the Orases team which was a checklist titled You On Your Best Day. Here are a few of the items that guide us to be daily heroes of compassion and peace: 

  • Did you greet who you passed during the day?
  • Did you include a smile with each greeting?
  • Did you truly listen before you spoke?
  • Did you “check- in” with someone on a personal basis?

These are very simple actions but very powerful in connecting with others. Let’s all strive to be compassionate, peace heroes.

 Peace, Mary

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