I take a lot of criticism in my position. It’s not just people in Pike County who wish I would move back to the north. I run papers in four other markets a including one in West Virginia. We report the truth, and a lot of people don’t really like that, so they take it out on me. I’m OK with that, though.

Most of the haters don’t really know me, but hide behind a keyboard. Some are dead and some have been cut off because platforms have been canceled. If you know me and still have an issue, then that’s great. At least they tried.

The old adage goes, “don’t criticize me until you have walked a mile in my shoes. That’s what I say to people. Most people are not interested in that walk because it’s grueling.  I also tell them that, when they are a mile away,  I don’t care what they say because I wont hear them.

Civility and common courtesy are virtues that are not practiced unless there is a crisis. On that fateful day, 20 years ago we were devastated. On 9/12, we were united as a country; we were hacked off and wanted someone to pay for the attack on our soil. The crisis arose and we were, for a brief time, civil and courteous.

Instantly, police, firefighters, EMTs and all first responders were heroes. Kids once again looked up to these folks. As time moves on, our nation has become more divided. Police are looked upon as the enemy because a few bad ones lost their minds and made horrible mistakes. Some justified, others not.

If you read the article last week where the Pikeville Fire Department was out making rescues on the side of mountains, in swiftly moving waters, in creeks and floods, those people are heroes.

If you read how the volunteer fire department, state police, sheriff’s deputies all pitched in and helped people who were in danger because of the flash flood, you read about heroes.

Since the COVID pandemic, we have to be reminded that our first responders are most vulnerable because they are out in the public. And before the vaccine was available they risked their lives to take care of people no matter what happened.

A new group of heroes has joined the ranks of those brave men and women of 9/11. While the heroes will forever be remembered, doctors, nurses, support staff and community health directors have all joined the prestigious ranks of a hero, as are all first responders.

Because of HIPPA laws, we can’t tell you about the exhausting efforts of every medical professional who is risking their lives daily to help save a life. These people have become heroes.

In an attempt to regain civility, we all need look back on 9/12 and remember how we felt as a nation. How we wanted to make this country the best it can be. How we can support our heroes and make them more appreciated.

These people, doctors, nurses, health department personnel make a conscious decision every day to get up and make others their priority. Just like the brave men and women who went into the burning towers, just like the brave men and women in the military, just like the heroes on flight 93 who diverted that plane from D.C. and made the terrorists crash land in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, our local heroes are protecting us right here in the mountains.

While we will forever remember the attack on our soil and the heroes who went into harm’s way, we should also forever remember the new heroes who are sacrificing themselves for the rest of us.  

Life is complex and we often get caught up in the minutiae. One constant is change. We can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and criticize from afar. Or we can offer a courtesy and civility.

Thanks for reading the News-Express.