When I was at the telethon yesterday, I asked Mike Arms how he was doing. “I just got back from Prague,” he said, “where I was asked to give a keynote address to an international assembly of animal rescuers from 50 countries.”
He told me he doesn’t write his remarks ahead of time. I guess that is something you just learn how to do over time. If I got up there I would have just stammered for a few minutes and then resorted to knock knock jokes.
But I digress. I asked him what he said, and he replied that he told the group this:
“Firemen save lives every day, and don’t hesitate to call them heroes.
Policemen save lives every day, and they too are recognized as heroes.
Doctors, EMTs- the list goes on and on. If you save a life, you are a hero.”
Then he looked out at the assembled group, and he told them, “So why are you so reluctant to take credit for what you do? YOU are heroes. Please stand up and be recognized for the amazing work you do to save lives.” I think his words were a little more eloquent, but that’s the gist.
I have spent enough time with animal rescue people to know that they are probably the last people who would ever stand up and label themselves as the heroes they are. Animal lovers tend to be humble, generous to a fault, and willing to delve into the messiness of dealing with the often harsh realities that arise out of the way we treat our animal friends. This is not a cause you can take on from a clean and safe distance.
And you, all of you here, are those people. Heroes who have given up a night of sleep in order to raise money for pets and people in need. You’ve cried along with me, laughed, given more than you probably could afford. You’ve shared stories, kept me company in the wee hours of twilight, celebrated and mourned and experienced all of this along with me.
I can’t afford to fly you all to Prague to do this, but I’ll do it here: you, each and every one who took the time to come here with me and with my blogger friends, are heroes. You don’t have to stand up- maybe that’s a little overkill- but from me to you, take a moment to close your eyes and really drink in the good you have done.
You didn’t have to be here. You could be watching TV or having a latte at Starbucks or be spending time with your family, but you gave of yourself and your time and your life to be here. You guys are my heroes.