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Jim Crawford: Honoring those who serve us all

Luke Adams is a 35-year-old critical care nurse, a husband, a father of two young children, and a hero.

In the new world of the coronavirus, our heroes are those who risk all, not for money, not for fame, not for patriotism, but for simple compassion for all of us.

Luke represents so many who give so much with no reward beyond helping others.

Luke lives and works in eastern Pennsylvania, but when a Staten Island, New York hospital desperately needed help, he left his family, rented a car with space enough in the back for a sleeping bag, and headed for the Staten Island University Hospital, in Ocean Breeze, New York.

When Luke’s story was discovered, he was asked why — why leave everything behind to risk his life, where masks and gloves and protective gowns are so often in short supply or completely unavailable.

“I have two small kids back home, and I want to be able to say to them, if you have the ability to help people in need, you have to do it,” he said. “We are asking all Americans to sacrifice — whether it’s their income, their security or not seeing their families. I’m going to miss my daughter’s first birthday,”
Adams took on 12-hour shifts, working eight straight days and sleeping in the back of his rental car. He did not know anyone to bunk with and he could not afford local hotel prices.

In early April, a family from nearby Huguenot, New York, offered Luke a room to sleep in and he accepted. Since then, there has been a virtual flood of e-mails offering him money for a hotel room or rooms to stay in when he is off duty.

Luke Adams is a hero.

So too is Rebecca Mehra, who, when leaving a grocery store, heard a woman call out to her from a nearby car. Inside the car, Rebecca saw an elderly man and woman. The woman, in tears, told Rebecca that they came to buy food, but they were afraid to go inside the store, for fear of catching the coronavirus. They had no family.

They asked Rebecca if she would buy their groceries, passing through a small window crack $100 and a small list. Rebecca bought the groceries, placed them in the car’s trunk and gave the woman the change. The couple explained that they had waited in the parking lot for 45 minutes, waiting for someone to ask for help.

Then there was the newspaper carrier who placed a handwritten note in the mailboxes of her customers, offering to pick up and deliver them groceries if they could not get out or felt unsafe to go out.

And the undocumented workers, laid off for their jobs, who took up sewing masks for their neighbors and strangers.

The grocery store workers, heroes who know they risk their health and that of their families, to serve everyone else, heroes all. The truck drivers, so crucial to everything; the toll booth workers and transit workers; cashiers and custodians; trash collectors and food bank volunteers; and, of course first responders, firemen, police and EMTs; all heroes in this new world of ours.

In Manhattan, folks clap daily in support of the doctors and nurses who give so much so freely. Meanwhile, musicians everywhere offer songs as music lifts the soul of all of us.

There are the fundraisers to keep small business afloat and the restaurant owners who provide free food to healthcare workers. So many Americans finding ways to help each other.

America will be changed after the coronavirus, changed in some ways forever. But we will have discovered the best of us in the hardest of times.
So many heroes among us.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.