Summary: My heroes have changed. In the week since the tragedy God has redefined who my heroes are.
"After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest." -- Nehemiah 3:20 New American Standard
In this time of tragedy you are probably wondering why I chose this obscure verse. I guess it’s because a lot has changed in me in the past week. In particular what has changed is the way I view heroes now.
Baruch, the son of Zabbai, is so obscure that his name would stump most seminary graduates and possibly professors. So what does this obscure mason have to say to us during what is probably one of the most tragic times of our history?
Our friend Baruch, in fact, has much in common with many of those who we revere in New York. You see Baruch was laboring to help rebuild a broken city. If you were to read all of Nehemiah chapter three you would find that Baruch is the only one mentioned who "zealously" repaired his section of the wall.
During the month of September, I’ve been mesmerized in front of my television set like so many millions across the nation. Though I have seen countless times the destruction of the World Trade Center replayed on television, I have also seen heroic acts that have brought me to tears.
I have watched firemen courageously dig through the mountain of rubble of what was the World Trade Center. I watched as a tearful fireman, who had worked almost non-stop since the accident, told a reporter that he wasn’t going to give up until he recovered his missing comrades. I don’t even know his name, but he has become a hero to me now, as have the rest of the New York fire and police departments.
I watched a New York mayor that I previously had known little about arrive at the scene and muster a city behind him. Even his critics were inspired by him. The day of the tragedy the mayor frequented Ground Zero numerous times, donning a white mask and a hard hat. Throughout the crisis, Giuliani served as a supreme example of leadership that gave courage to us all! Mayor Giuliani is definitely my hero now!
I saw how our President rose to the occasion and unified Congress. What impressed me the most, however, is that he called for a day of prayer and made it politically correct! I don’t even remember hearing any noise from the American Civil Liberties Union. President Bush is my hero now.
Before the accident, I had always assumed New Yorkers to be pushy and gruff. Since the accident, I have seen them unify. They have a memorial wall in New York City where the pictures and names of those who have perished have been posted. I watched on television as a woman who did not even know any of the perished came to the wall and wept. I don’t know her name, but she is my hero now, as are the countless New Yorkers who have visited that wall to pay their respects. They have inspired me.
I have watched on television as doctors, professors, and business executives have donned tee shirts and jeans to do menial volunteer work to help with the tragedy. I may not know their names, but they are all my heroes now.
I think of the nurses, medics, and doctors in the hospitals of New York who have worked overtime in the emergency rooms. They are all my heroes now. I can also mention the countless men and women of our armed services who preparing to sacrifice their lives in this new war. They, too, are all my heroes now!
On television I watched as New Yorkers lined the streets holding signs to cheer firemen and EMS workers as they were rushing to Ground Zero. All of these anonymous people who inspired me so much, are my heroes now!
On the day of the Tragedy, Jeremy Glick, on board United Airlines Flight 93, called his wife on his cell phone to tell her he was about to die, but pledged to go down fighting. Jeremy Glick and all of those on United Airlines Flight 93 are my heroes now!
Finally, I want to remember all the perished firemen, policemen, and servicemen in the Pentagon. In particular, I am moved by the story of Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain of the New York Fire Department who put himself in harms way to minister to those in the collapsing twin towers. He was killed while comforting the dying. Father Judge and all of the rescue workers who perished that day are my heroes now and also those of millions!
So in the midst of this drama why choose a verse about such an obscure character from the Bible? I chose this verse about Baruch because I believe that it highlights the spirit of so many in our nation who are "zealously" doing their part to help in the reconstruction since the tragedy.