Case of stolen honor

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002

Tragedy brings out the best and worst in us. On the evening of September 11, as we stayed home, our attention captured by the horror being displayed on our TV screens, we felt a unity nearly unparalleled in this country.

Within hours, someone was attempting to make money off of that patriotism. While Girls Scouts and kindergarten classes sold beads and ribbons to sell for Red Cross donations, others sold similar items for personal gain. The price of American flags mysteriously skyrocketed in many places and someone even attempted to sell the ashes of the World Trade Center - and those of the victims

– on E-Bay.

Now we have a person in Opp who has stolen the identity of one of the heroes of that time, New York firefighter George Johnson.

While it is not yet known if this individual attempted to capitalize on his resemblance to the firefighter - whose image, along with those other two firefighters from that famous photograph of raising the flag, is now represented at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum –

but it makes his actions no less offensive.

If not pathetic.

Even as we condemn his actions, we pity his apparent need for attention and praise.

As we approach the first anniversary of a dark day, we see image after image of those who paid the greatest price, and those who were left behind to grieve for them. What a shame that our all too brief unity and our all too rare hero-worship has become tainted by the actions of one selfish person.

As the submissions pour in for our September 11 commemorative issue, we see proof that our renewed sense of patriotism is still strong – but the fact that people are suddenly aware of national pride, that our patriotism had to be renewed, is a sad comment on the mentality of our nation prior to the collapse of the towers.

Why had we grown so jaded? Perhaps it had something to do with people who would grasp at our idealism and subvert it for their own needs – people who take instead of give, who

are so absorbed with "self" that they cannot comprehend the needs of others.

Be aware of them – but do not let them become the focal point. Instead, turn your attention to those who truly earned the honors they receive.