Alabama tornadoes and small heroes

After a tragic day like yesterday, the tendency of the news media is to concentrate on tragedy, survivors, and big heroes. And it is well that they get news of the tragedy out so that aid can come in. Big heroes need to be celebrated because they remind us of those moments of shining light even in the midst of dark events. I am less sanguine about survivors, because all too often the news media can overuse them and turn them into a small circus. But stories from the survivors also give us an idea of the intensity of the events that happened.

What does not tend to get on the news media are what I call the small heroes. These are the everyday people who may do nothing overtly heroic, but who, in their quiet way, are part of the thread that begins to stitch back together the shattered fabric of the community. I have met a few of them today at work. One midnight shift supervisor here at the VA Medical Center is here despite the fact that his house has no electricity. He is essential personnel and he takes that seriously. And so, he has faithfully come in, and will return to his non-powered home at the end of his shift. He is a small hero who will not get reported by the news media, but is part of what binds the community back together.

Another woman works in the laboratory. She gave birth to twins just four months ago. Her house has power, but a few of her relatives are there now because their houses do not have power. So, she is having to take turns for the shower as well as sharing in the cooking and so on, but she is here tonight. Again, she is essential personnel and she takes that seriously. Patient care cannot be compromised, even though she might have a reasonable excuse for staying home. She is a small hero.

A couple of people from the parish have extra bedrooms and have already quietly told the parish priest that those rooms are available. One family has power in a subdivision without power, so they have opened their home to their neighbors. They are small heroes and quite excellent representatives of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian.

The parish priest and the deacon have tried to call every family to find out what is happening and what their needs are. They, too, are those behind the scenes workers who are the threads who help bring back together a fractured community. I am sure he is praying quite hard now, asking the Lord what God’s word for this Sunday ought to be. He will be representing the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth this Sunday in a very special way. Please pray for the pastors across the various states who, this Sunday, will need to be God’s voice to a grieving people.

Yes, I honor the “big” heroes. I am astounded at the people from the police and the sheriff’s departments who were driving just behind, just in front of, and just to the side of the tornadoes so that they could be there as quickly as possible to bring aid. I honor the paramedics and fire department personnel who will go into the destruction zone to pull out survivors. I honor the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Hands On Birmingham, and other organizations who are quickly moving in relief supplies. They are the bandages that bind our wounds.

But, this post is about the small heroes, the threads that repair the rips, bring the community back together, and give witness that God cares even about the little things. May Almighty God richly bless the small heroes.


  1. Judy says

    Jesus said, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17) Small heroes reap big rewards.

  2. says

    Jesus said, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authroity over ten cities” (Luke 19:17). Small heroes reap big rewards.

  3. Alix says

    This reminds me of the folks who despite being hit by 4 hurricanes the year before and still in the rebuilding stage here in Florida went to the aid of those devastated by Katrina, the people who though they had little themselves gave generously to those in need in Haiti, Japan and other places hard hit by natural disasters–and of course those in the path of this horrible storm who just quietly let their neighbors plug into their generator, got out their chain saw and started cutting, offered food and water to emergency workers though they were short of those things themselves and grabbed the extra blanket and pile of clothes and clothed those whose possessions were torn away.

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