Letters from Ely Courage

by Duane Behrens

Courage <BR><BR>There is courage in the little girl, hugging her mother and then walking alone toward her first day of school. And there is courage in the mother who must stand there watching her go. <BR><BR> There is courage in the 10 year old boy who has just stepped squarely upon a framing nail while playing at a construction site with friends. . . courage as he limps home with half the nail protruding through the top of his foot. There is courage in the mother who, without insurance or money for a doctor, first removes the nail in a single firm motion and then, tears streaming down her cheeks, pours tincture of iodine into the open wound as the boy's older sisters hold him down. <BR><BR>There is courage in the middle-aged couple whose love for their parents is anchored in a lifetime of reciprocal love. Courage in their acceptance that they alone can no longer give those parents the care they need. And there is courage in those aging parents, accepting assisted living as a necessary, comfortable and perhaps even pleasant part of their autumn years. <BR><BR>There is courage in the shortstop who bends at the knees, extends his glove and readies himself for every play . . . in the ninth inning of a playoff game his team is losing 24 - 5. There is courage in the manager who holds his head high, grins and shakes the hand of every player following the loss. <BR><BR>There is courage in the trapper who gets up at 4:00 a.m. to brave minus-30 degree temperatures, setting a line of traps he hopes will help support his family. And there is courage in the trapped fox that quietly gnaws off her own paw, escaping on three legs and a bloody stump before the trapper returns. <BR><BR>There is courage in the woman who quietly accepts the blows of a drunken husband every Friday night. Her courage is even more evident when she finally gathers the kids, puts them in the car and drives away forever at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. <BR><BR>There is courage in the National Guard private who signed up for one weekend of guard duty a month and suddenly finds himself amid car bombs and mortar shells, finally dying a horrible death in an undeclared war in a strange and increasingly hostile land. In all the ways that matter, this young man is no different from the boys who died in WWII. He is a hero to me, fighting in a war that is wrong, but fighting for all the right reasons. And there is courage in every mother who first mourns her son's death, and then demands to know why he had to die. <BR><BR>There was courage in the New York firefighters who assisted survivors out of WTC-1 and WTC-2 on September 11th, 2001 . . . firefighters who radioed dispatch that the fires had been brought under control . . . firefighters who died soon after when each building first shook violently and then collapsed without warning. There is courage in surviving families of those heroes who have thus far refused an offer of $1.5 million each, offered in return for their promise to stop asking how concrete, metal furniture and computers on Floor 5 could have been reduced to microscopic particles as the result of a fire on Floor 78 . . . or why examination of the wreckage was never allowed . . . or why WTC-7 fell at all. <BR><BR>There is courage in the 12-year old boy who interrupts and stops a 16-year old bully from beating up on his best friend, even though he must now suffer those blows himself. There is courage in that young boy's classmates, who watch this for awhile and then suddenly descend on the bully en masse, giving him a lasting lesson in the power of the many over the meanness of a few. <BR><BR>Courage. Lessons in courage. Lessons all around us. <BR><BR>Lessons to be learned. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>[Duane may be reached at duanebehrens@cox.net]<BR><BR>