Unsung heroes make the world a better place

Published 9:35 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Heroes inspire, help, serve and lead the way in making the world a better place. There are so many heroes who are rarely recognized in the community — teachers, nurses, historians, 911 dispatchers, volunteer coaches, soup kitchen workers, parents, mentors, religious leaders, neighbors, aunts and uncles and more who have made it their goal to seek change and/or help others. Many of these folks donate their time and energies to making our world better.

Recently, I have written about leaders addressing race relations, Suffolk Public Schools teachers of the year and two 911 dispatchers who helped deliver babies over the phone. These are among our community’s unsung heroes.

It’s surprising how much our society takes for granted, especially when we consider what we would be missing without those individuals who have lead the way in terms of their sacrifices and service to others.

Email newsletter signup

Every day, for example, 911 dispatchers are there to listen, offer help and ensure the safety of every Suffolk citizen.

Teaching, which my own experience shows me is hardly an eight-hour-a-day job, is notorious for requiring additional time for tutoring and after-school activities, researching better teaching methods and thinking about the best way to help individual students.

Where would we be without teachers? They make other professions possible.

Where would we be without leaders like Dr. Patricia Turner, who recently spoke to students at King’s Fork High School? As a child, she lead the way, agreeing to be one of 17 black students to attend all-white schools in Norfolk prior to full integration.

As a middle school student, she had to learn to deal with bigotry and disrespect, when all she wanted to do was go to school, make friends and learn. She held her head up through the insults and through the poor treatment she received from peers and teachers.

I am grateful to Turner for opening the door for blacks and other minority groups, and for continuing to teach and share her experiences with area students and adults.

I am grateful to Turner for leading the way so that minorities today don’t have to endure the pain that she and those other pioneering 17 students in Norfolk had to endure.

I count myself lucky that I attended school with students of a variety of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. I thank God that people like Turner led the way so I could meet some of my best friends and favorite teachers who didn’t look like me or share my religious beliefs.

There is still much to be done in terms of race, cultural and religious relations, and I eagerly anticipate a future with less discord. But I thank people like Ms. Turner for inspiring us all toward unity.