Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tucson Heroes, More than you know

Living here in Tucson, we know how special the people here are. We know that when your car breaks down, people jump out of their cars to help push you out of the road, and while you are sitting by the side of the road waiting for your tow company, at least a dozen people will stop and ask if you need to use a cell phone to call for help. We know that if you are in a grocery store and aren't sure how to fix that strange fruit or vegetable,all you have to do is hold it up and ask if anybody knows what to do with it and you will leave with a head full of recipes. We know that people here are nosy. Thank God they are nosy, because that is where our heroes come from.
Everyday, we are hearing more and more about the heroics of that awful day 2 weeks ago. Many of the other heroes will not make the prime time news. For instance, you've heard about Dorwin Stoddard who died  shielding his wife. Did you hear about  Mary Reed who shoved her daughter up against a wall and shielded her, taking 3 bullets? Mary survived and her daughter was physically unscathed. How about George Morris? He tried to shield his wife and was shot twice, one bullet hitting a lung. Unfortunately, his wife died despite his attempt. He is still a hero for trying. Then how about Kenneth Dorushka who pushed his wife to the ground, held her down when she would get up and run and shielded her. He was shot in the arm that protected her. Never mentioned is the Safeway employee from produce who was outside chatting with Shayne Stuge, a bagger. I haven't been able to find his name, but Shayne credits him with pulling her to the ground, saving her life. And then there was Federal Judge John Roll. Many know he was killed, but it has been discovered that he pushed  Ron Barber down, guiding him under a table and shielded Ron with his own body, taking a bullet in the back.

Ron Barber owes his life to two people. Judge Roll, who shielded him, and Anna Ballis. Anna was there to shop, but when the gunshots sounded, she ran to Barber and applied pressure to his wounds. Doctors say that he would not have made it to the hospital without her help. She wasn't the only person to run towards the sound of bullets. There was of course Daniel Hernandez, who ran towards the gunfire and saved Gabriel Giffords. An unnamed Samaritan helped Doris Tucker keep her husband Jim from bleeding to death.  David and Nancy Bowman are a doctor and nurse couple that tried to save little Christina-Taylor Green. Sadly, they failed.
Another person known to run towards the gunfire was Joe Zamudio. He was at the Walgreens when he heard the gunfire. Armed, he readied his gun as he ran towards the gunfire, ready to shoot if need be. At the same time an unnamed person hit Loughner with a chair, Bill Badger grabbed Loughner's left hand, Roger Salzgeber grabbed his right and they and pushed him down. Patricia Maisch grabbed a loaded magazine from the gunman and another unknown grabbed the gun. When Zamudo arrived, he disarmed the man who had taken the gun before bystanders could tell him that wasn't the shooter, so he turned his attention to helping hold Loughner down. Maisch had more heroics to perform. She knelt on the shooter's ankles until she noticed that Badger had been shot in the head and was bleeding profusely. She got someone else to sit on Loughner's ankles while she scrambled to apply pressure to Badger's wound. Badger was on blood thinners and could very well have died without her aid.

These are only the heros that can be singled out, and we don't know all of their names. Add to the list the store employees that grabbed clean aprons and paper towels and ran out to the carnage to give what aid they could, the police, the emts, the emergency room staff, the doctors... the list is huge. But it is very Tucsonian in nature to run to help, and I am proud to live here.

Government budgets

What drives me nuts are all the proposed cuts to pensions and medicare, programs that help the poor, schools, police and fire. When cities burn down because there aren't enough firefighters, honest citizens have to choose between robbery and starvation (and there are no cops anyway to make them think twice), cities become places no business wants to be, and even more of them move to China.
I think there would be a lot more fat cut if anyone making a million dollars last year got paid 1 dollar this year. Elected politicians should be paid no more than 150% of the median wage of their constituents, and only get the benefits they are willing to give the people they supposedly serve.
Or maybe we should pay them an hourly minimum wage. No overtime (since they don't require regular people to be paid overtime) and no pay for any time they spend politicking instead of working. They can run for office on their own dime. If they don't like it, maybe regular people can get the job done.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My favorite adoption

One of my favorite adoption stories was the cat that adopted me. Whenever I had to pull euthanasia duty, I would go into the cat room to recover. Sandy would always comfort me, standing up in her cage to put her paws around my neck and rub faces. Whenever anybody approached her, she was sweet and friendly to man, woman or child. I couldn't understand why such a sweet cat wasn't adopted. Finally, one of the councilors asked me to stand in the other room where Sandy couldn't see me and watch through the window. When anybody approached Sandy's cage, she backed into a corner and sat there indifferent. Her whole aura was a snub and off putting. I was told by everyone in the adoption room that she was always like that.I went into the room, she saw me and immediately started purring loudly mewing and rubbing the cage door, trying to entice the closet people, responding to them like they were her long lost loves. Eventually, she got sick and I was told to sign one of two papers, her death warrant or her adoption. Of course I adopted her. To me, she was always the sweetest most affectionate cat you could ask for. For others, she was rude and insulting. Did you ever see a cat flip someone off with her tail? Every person coming in my house was given the flip, and recognized it as such. One man didn't get the flip. Him, I married with her approval.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tucson's Memorial Service

     It has been a long time since I wrote here. I've been busy, though I've intended to get back to the blogging. I wanted to tell everyone about our adventures in soundproofing, about the momma dog and her puppies that we rescued, about the cats that need homes, but this tragedy, the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the people who came to speak to her, comes first.
     I'm sure you don't need to be told what happened last Saturday (the 8th of January) . I'm sure you have heard of the hero that ran toward the gunfire, not away, the gentleman who shielded his wife with his own body so that she may live, the man who struck the gunman with a chair, enabling others to take him down, to take his gun, and to take his gun. Did you know there was also nearly another tragedy to do with guns? A man with a weapon heard the gunfire, and ran to see if he could help. He intended to shoot if necessary. By the time he arrived, the gunman was unarmed, but this man didn't know it. He forced the man who had retrieved the gun to drop it. In the excitement of the moment, if the man hadn't, would he have been another victim? It did not take armed people to take the shooter down, and at the speed he fired, another gunman would have done nothing but add to the chaos, even if he didn't manage to kill some more innocent bystanders.
    But what prompts me to write today is the national response to our memorial service last night. Almost immediately after the service I started hearing and reading reactions to it. Some were favorable, but a distressing number were negative, questioning our grief because we cheered and clapped in appreciation for heroes and for the wonderful people that had been lost. If you don't understand,we weren't cheering the loss of life,  we were cheering our appreciation for the lives they had lived.
     We who live in Tucson are grieving. But last night was not a time for tears, though there were plenty, it was a time for celebrating the memories of lives lost, the lives saved and the heroes. It was not a eulogy, it was a memorial. There was no disrespect in cheering in appreciation for the magnificent people lost that day, and the people who prevented more deaths. Yes, Tucson can be raucous, it is a small town in a big, rough western body, but the people who choose to live here do so because it is an emotional, gregarious place. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. For those who don't think we grieve "properly", come here and see our grief. It is there, for all to see. 
     There were plenty of tears today at Christina Green's funeral today. There will be more for the others lost. The survivors won't be forgotten here when the media turns it's attention to the next big news maker. We take care of our own, and we grieve deeply and openly. But we also know how to celebrate the value of a life. More people should.