Bravery: A Thought on Heroes

Bravery: A Thought on Heroes

Today is September 12th, 2012. I know you all know that, but I have a purpose in mentioning it. It is the day after September 11th, a date that will forever be known in the United States as the anniversary of a horrible tragedy. Do you remember where you were when you first heard the news? I do. I was sitting in Religion class back when I went to a catholic high school. One of the sisters came on the announcer and told us all to gather in the cafeteria where we all sat in silence watching the news.

This post is not about who did it, or who caused the pain. It is not about the war and whether it is right or wrong. This post is about remembering the people who died that day, and those who saved many.

Yesterday began as any other day for me. I woke up, grumbled about having to work, then began my day. I spent almost two hours of my morning stuck in traffic, complaining about how much I hated Interstate 495. It was a hectic morning with an easy afternoon. I decided to hop on facebook and browse until my lunch break ended. What I saw both inspired me, and broke my heart.

Pictures upon pictures of 9/11 paraded through my news food. Inspiration pictures with the common quote of Never Forget blazing across the top. I had truly forgotten that it was even September 11th. That unsettled me. I had been so caught up with school, this website, planning for my wedding that happens in a month, and even grieving over the fact that a blog I enjoy will be shutting down. Selfishly, I had forgotten an important day, a day we are supposed to remember.

I thought of posting something on my facebook to show my support of the heroes that emerged that fateful day, but something changed my mind. On posts that other people had made, we saw comments from people who are only created to hurt. People were accusing the government of orchestrating the entire thing; other people were claiming that Americans deserved it. People can have their beliefs, I do support that. You are entitled to think what you want. What infuriated me so was that people who were posting prayers to the families that lost someone, others were attacking our government in the comments. September 11th is not about the government. It is about people. People whose lives were taken, people who gave their lives to save others, and people who went above and beyond simply to help. This one day is not about blame, or about war, or even about terrorism. It is about the loss of life, and a country coming together to support its people.

Perhaps that is my naive take on it. I don’t understand why people feel the need to seek out others, and hurt them with their words. Let people grieve and remember in peace, without fear of verbal attacks. That day was filled with heroes, people we should remember and respect. Focus not on your beliefs of why it happened, but instead focus on healing the wounds that it created.

As I drove home from work, my mind was heavy with these thoughts. How can people not honor the heroes? How can we forget everything that people did for each other that day, and each day for the months that followed? An idea that had been mulling around my head weeks before, when I had remembered that 9/11 was approaching, resurfaced with vengeance. I was going to show my appreciation, even in some small insignificant way.

Yesterday, my two-year old daughter and I brought a tray of cookies, bakery bought since I am awful at baking, to our local Fire Station and Police Department. Trust me when I say if I had tried to bake them myself, my town would be out a few officers and firemen due to food poisoning. I truly am that bad. On the top of the tray was a big pink thank you card decorated in purple, red, blue and green scribbles with the sprawling words, Thank you for all that you do! It was a small gesture, but one that the officers and firemen at our local station loved.

It is a simple gesture, but simple gestures sometimes go the farthest. What did you do to commemorate 9/11?

Honor: A Thought about People

Honor: A Thought about People

Honor, it is a word that has existed for as long as history.  What do you think of when you think of honor?  Do you think of medieval knights?  Soldiers?  Police officers?  Perhaps firemen?  I know we certainly don’t think of politicians.  According to the ever handy dictionary.com, honor means honesty, fairness, and integrity, to be held in high respect.  Honor is a word we use to describe people of greatness, people who held fast to their beliefs and acted with honesty, and integrity.  This could apply to a great many people you know, and I truly hope it does.

This weekend, a simple disagreement about another’s actions sparked a deep turmoil for me, and I began to question honor in today’s world.  I was suddenly thrust into deep thought about the ability to ask for help, deception, and pride.  It may seem a bit muddled, but I will do my best to explain.  My words may seem a bit controversial, because it truth they are.  Besides, it just wouldn’t be a Monday without a bit of controversy now would it?

To begin this explanation, I should tell you a little about where I am from.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.  Massachusetts is considered one of the more expensive states overall to live in.  In fact some of you may have heard its nickname, Taxachusetts.  Especially with the recent economy, there are many that struggle to continue living here simply because the cost.  To help this struggle, the State offers programs to assist those in need.  Although there is much negativity towards the Welfare program, WIC, (Women, Infants, and Children) or the Food Stamps (SNAPS) program, I am a firm believer that they are necessary and wonderful programs.  I myself have had the need of WIC aid at one time.  People will do what they must to survive, and there is no shame in asking for help.  These programs were put in place to help struggling families, and there is nothing wrong in accepting it.

I have had many friends call upon these programs to help get back on their feet.  I have never once looked down upon them, or scorned them for it.  In fact, I never really gave it much thought.  That was until this weekend when a simple discussion brought about a sharp sense of anger.  There is a very big difference between needing these programs, and wanting them.

When I applied for financial aid this year, as I am returning to school in September to pursue writing,  I did not receive any.  Instead, the government has graciously allowed me to borrow the necessary funds.  I was prepared for this, as my family and I are in a good position financially.  It did not damper my spirits in the slightest.  I know that many people can receive aid, but I truly believe it should be granted to those that need it.  Although I would love to have it, I know I do not fit the bill.

What upset me so much this weekend was deception, that is to say people who lie to get benefits they may or may not deserve.  Those that live in the United States know that this is a hot topic.  Much of this hatred is aimed at those receiving unemployment without looking for a job, but that is not what this post is directed at.  This is directed at those that receive benefits, and lie about why they need them.  Take a person who receives assistance because they are deemed eligible.  That person receives a free education, usually to a school of their choice pending their merits, cash assistance, healthcare assistance, food assistance, even housing assistance.  To all, it seems like they are getting all the help they need to get back on their feet.  Except what they don’t tell the government is that they are working under the table making a good $500 to $600 plus a week.  It may not seem like much money, but that is a good amount over minimum wage, and that wage alone would disqualify them from most of the assistance they receive, pending the size of their family of course.  So imagine the frustration of those that go to their job, day in and day out, have 30% of their wages taken out in taxes, and receive less take home pay than the other person who is also receiving all the assistance, paid for by those very same tax dollars.  It is very discouraging.  Despite that, I can see why people abuse the system.  It is truly financially a better option.  It is not, however, an honorable option.

So I ask then, is it worth it?  Is it wrong, or is it right?  Anyone who claims that is right is deluded.  And yet history teaches us that just because something is not right, does not mean that people are not going to do it.  After all, if they can qualify for it, they will go ahead and take it.  This is where my thoughts on pride surfaced.  As stated before, there is nothing wrong with taking help when you need it.  Key word there is need.

When I first had my daughter, my fiancé and I struggled.  I was out of work due to the harsh pregnancy, and my fiancé was the only one brining in money.  We struggled to pay bills, and we decided we needed help.  Luckily we were able to join a wonderful program called WIC which helps families by supplying basic things such as fruits and vegetables, milk, and even formula to those who need it.  We joined WIC for a few months, but when we got back on our feet we decided we no longer needed it and stopped the program.  It had served its purpose and we moved on.  Now, we are in a great situation due to hard work, and a drive to do better for our family.  I went out, found a fantastic job and am now supporting my family to the best of my ability.  I am proud to say that.  I am also proud to say that I am doing it on my own.  I have no ill thoughts to those that need help because they are doing what they need to do for their families, and that is something to be just as proud of.

However, I would not be proud to deceive these programs, and cheat the system to get benefits you  are not entitled to.  It may not be ideal that these things are not available to everyone, but then if that were the case our taxes would skyrocket and then this post would be about that.  So to those people who are abusing the system to your own advantage, I ask a simple question.  Does it make you feel proud that you are able to get benefits you might not deserve?  If it does, well then all the power to you.  While you stand proudly over your pile of deception, I will stand proudly over my accomplishments.  And should the government catch you, which in all honesty is doubtful, then you might want to Google the definition of fraud.