Heroes Rise to the Occasion

| October 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Brennan Savage with his son.

Some people say “Heroes are born,” some believe heroes are manufactured by the media. I believe that heroes are ordinary people who in times of crisis decide to step up and do something for others. This story tells of a few people that live in San Diego who rose to the occasion when it counts. They were there when someone needed them, without being asked, paid money or because it was convenient. They did something extraordinary, because it was the right thing to do…even when nobody is watching.

Brennan Savage and Danny Noonan are both firefighters that now live in San Diego, but were at Ground Zero during the 9/11 crisis. On Sept 10th Brennan Savage had worked the overnight shift at the Queens Beach, NY Fire Department. Savage was heading out to meet a few of his firefighter friends to go surfing before he went home to go to sleep. He noticed smoke coming from the Twin Towers. Instead of saying, “Oh I’m off duty the other guys will take care of it,” Savage went back inside the fire house, climbed to the roof to get a better look and started taking pictures. He noticed an airliner flying low and wondered why. Then he saw the second plane hit the Twin Towers and knew he needed to go back to work. Without any sleep, Brennan Savage jumped in the fire truck and was one of the first firefighters at Ground Zero before the Towers fell.

Danny Noonan has a different story. Noonan had retired from the NY Fire Department and was living in San Diego. Like most of America, he watched the attack on television. Even though Noonan was retired and had no responsibility to the fire department, he knew his friends were putting their lives on the line for America. Noonan jumped on the first plane to New York and joined his fire house to work at Ground Zero. Both men stepped up when someone needed them, because it was the right thing to do. That’s how a hero is born.

You don’t need to be in a life or death situation like our firefighters, you just need to step up and rise to the occasion.

You’ve heard the saying “I was at the right place at the right time.” Tommy Lasorda believes there are no coincidences. Lasorda teaches that “when preparation meets opportunity you have a chance for greatness.” He would prepare his baseball players to learn how to play the game, so when it was their turn to go into a game situation, they would be ready. Sometimes the universe, destiny or God puts you at a specific place and time. Not necessarily for you, maybe you are there to help someone else. That is the story of our next hero, Leo Giovinetti, who also was involved with 9/11.

Giovinetti was on a plane sitting on the tarmac at the New Jersey Airport waiting to fly home to San Diego. The captain comes over the loud speaker and says, “Look out your window and you will notice smoke coming from the Twin Towers, we’re not sure what happened, but it will be a few minutes before we can take off.”

The next thing they hear is, “All air traffic across the United States is shut down. We must return to the airport.” Worry starts to set in on board the plane. And then, one of the passengers hears on a cell phone what happened and yells, “America is under attack!” Screams of “Oh my God” ring out. Worry has turned to panic and fear. At that point, Pastor Leo Giovinetti turned from passenger to hero. He stood up and brought calmness throughout the plane. He started praying to take the fear away from those who were overwhelmed.

Then one lady yelled, “My sister has an office in the Twin Towers and my cell phone is in my suitcase.” Pastor Leo provided a cell phone to help her connect with her sister. He brought peace to the situation. Pastor Leo told me, “Before this happened, we were all strangers on a plane. After the situation, we became immediate friends.”

Like a flashlight in darkness, Pastor Leo helped an entire plane of strangers through the crisis. He didn’t need to do it; he was in the same situation as everyone else. Pastor Leo rose to the occasion to help others. He became a hero to everyone on the flight.

Joe Sabolick is another hero. He jumped on the first flight back to New York and worked on the Bucket Brigade searching for survivors in the rubble of Ground Zero, helping others cope with what was happening. People like Joe Sabolick and Pastor Leo Giovinetti don’t even realize they are heroes. They don’t even realize they are doing something extraordinary. Joe, Pastor Leo and other real life heroes are just doing what comes normally to them.

At a local level, a few weeks ago when Southern California had the blackout, Michael Shames of U.C.A.N. pointed out, “This was the first time in American history that we had a total blackout – power, cell phones and Internet.” Some people went into a panic. Many others acted like Joe and Pastor Leo. They had a block party and made sure everyone was safe, had something to eat and were physically and emotionally okay. Heroes don’t have to step in front of a bullet or pull you from a fire. A hero is someone who rises to the occasion because they have a calling to do so.

Anyone can become a hero. The next time you hear that small voice inside of you say, “You can help improve the outcome of this situation.” Don’t walk away and leave it to someone else. Rise to the occasion.

Maybe it’s just talking to a kid or maybe he needs you to play catch with him. Maybe it’s taking food to an elderly person. Maybe it’s just listening to a friend when he/she is down. Next time step up and rise to the occasion. America needs heroes, today and every day. God gave us talent, skills and abilities. It’s time to step up and help.

You don’t need to be a millionaire or a Hollywood star; you don’t need to go to another country to find a cause. There is a hero in each and every one of us. Rise to the occasion, America and the world is counting on us.

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