|Caring Requires Courage
Content from Faithmatters-Dr. Rubel Shelly, Woodmont Hills
for the week of September 9, 2002
by Rubel Shelly
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the unimaginable in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Our country is at war. We have brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and spouses at risk for us. The president and his cabinet still have countless hard decisions to make that will affect our future. For this week, however, the focus will be on the past. We will remember, grieve again, and pray.
Here is a name you may not have heard, but what he did is worth remembering. There is a lesson in his heroic actions that points to something very important to all of us. Isaac Ho'opi'i is a Pentagon police officer. The native Hawaiian is one of the fortunate ones who survived the crash of a plane into that structure on September 11.
The 39-year-old Ho'opi'i wasn't on duty that day. But when he heard a plane had hit the Pentagon, he jumped in his car and sped for the site. He abandoned his car in the chaos and covered the final distance on foot. He was one of the first officers on the scene. "It was just all blown to pieces and some walls had caved in," he said.
Then Ho'opi'i saw people beginning to trickle out. "Male or female, black or white, you couldn't tell," he remembers, "they were so badly burned." The 6-foot- 2-inch, 200-plus pounder had no special equipment appropriate to the situation. He just waded in and began carrying people away from the burning rubble and onto a grassy area about 100 yards away. His strong arms moved eight people out of the devastated environment that could have become their tomb.
Finally Ho'opi'i couldn't see anyone else or find a path through the thick smoke. So he began yelling, "If you can hear me, head toward my voice!"
Wayne Sinclair was one of several people who heard him. Dazed and frozen in place by what had happened, the voice focused them. "I said, ‘Let's head toward that voice. There is somebody outside. There's got to be,' " recalls Sinclair. "So we kept heading toward it and, sure enough, we got outside."
This is what Sinclair said of Ho'opi'i after his rescue: "I call him my guardian angel. I just didn't know they came in such a big package." In the context of death and carnage, one person made the difference for so many others!
During the remembrances of this week, go beyond the painful images of terror, death, and war. Recall the valiant souls. Reflect on the likeness to God that surfaced through so many in the face of Satanic evil. Be grateful you belong to the race that — though it can produce monsters — also begets heroes.
Caring about one another requires courage, for it always involves risk. But the failure to care is a denial of the divine image we were created to bear.
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