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The White House declared July 23, 2017 through July 30, 2017 as “American Heroes Week”.

At the White House today President Trump honored five police officers who rushed to help when the congressional baseball practice came under fire last month. He presented the Medal of Valor to two U.S. Capitol Police officers, both of whom were injured while racing through the bullets to help protect those under fire. Three police officers from the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department were also honored. The President called them all American heroes who saved innocent lives. In his statement the President also honored the Alexandria Fire Department and all the first responders who assisted that day.

This, to me, was a very refreshing change to the normal silence that usually follows what is actually a daily occurrence on America’s streets. Police officers, firefighters and EMS first responders put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform. We, who work in these professions, may downplay the daily presence of that danger to ourselves and our families but at the same time that reality never really leaves our consciousness. We are in constant awareness of our #1 priority at all times – everyone goes home!

We have all worked with heroes over the course of our careers. Hell, some of us have actually done some truly heroic acts on the streets of Providence. I’ve seen them first hand by both police officers and firefighters. The fact is that it takes a rare type of person to want to put your life on the line every work day of your life for perfect strangers. Sometimes that fact is lost, even to us, on a day-to-day basis. Those of us who have worn the badges in our city can also recognize those among us who are the ones who will always step up no matter the danger involved. These are the best we have to offer.

It also happens to be the beginning of training camp for the NFL. While I am a huge sports fan I have, at least since I’ve been a firefighter, never really liked people referring to sports stars as heroes. To me it just seems to cheapen the word. I would much prefer to simply call them sports stars. That’s what they are – talented performers similar to movie stars. I know that some people resent the amount of money they make, and it is absurd, but it is also driven by the amount of money that their performance brings to the owners and organizations. Supply and demand. We still watch and attend games, when we can afford it that is. But…I don’t see too many professional sports teams going bankrupt!

It is very moving to me when a sports star of organization honors soldiers, veterans or first responders. The acknowledgement in and of itself is very rewarding. I know that I have the utmost respect for those stars who readily praise the real heroes. I have a picture on the wall of my bar of Tom Brady standing on his back porch watching the Boston firefighters battle a house fire which tragically took the lives of two of their own. Brady was quoted the next day as saying, “We as athletes think we are heroes but when you witness firsthand what I did yesterday, you realize who the real heroes are in this world”.

Well, I know who the real heroes are…and I salute you, my brothers and sisters!

 Until next month, stay safe and healthy!

 Tom Kenney

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the monthly commentary “The Way I See It” are Tom Kenney’s and not necessarily those of The Providence Police & Firefighters Retirement Association.

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