A new breed of heroes

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    I think we’re honored to be in the presence of so many heroes these days. I’m referring to our present-day Covid 19 heroes. Our nurses. Our doctors. Our hospital technicians and janitors. Our medical staff.

    What unbelievable courage and tenacity they’ve shown — and keep showing — in this uncharted, unknown, ever-widening battlefield where the enemy is  treacherous, ruthless, insidious, unseen.

    There’s no corner where it can’t hide. No seam or lining where it can’t slip into. No fold or wrinkle where it can’t park for awhile. Every time we venture out, we’re in a battlefield where bullets are whizzing past us — yet we can’t see them or hear them or feel them. We can’t even tell if we’ve been hit… well, not until some time later when our bodies suddenly break down — fast, furiously, systematically.

    The first casualties were our valiant doctors. Our medical staff. Frontliners within sneezing, breathing distance of those who carried the virus. I’ve often wondered during this pandemic: if I were a doctor, if I were a nurse, if I were part of the hospital staff — would I even report for work? Would I risk myself, my family? Would I deliberately go to a hospital, or intentionally go into an isolation tent where Covid patients are kept? Would I?

    I’m ashamed to say that most probably, I would not.

    That’s why I have the deepest respect, the highest esteem,  for our valiant doctors, nurses, and medical staff. They have gone out to sacrifice themselves —  to keep the oath they took. That’s what I heard so many of them say, when interviewed on TV: We took an oath. We have to fulfill it. For such a time as this.

    Even as more and more people die of the Covid 19 virus, our medical front liners continue to show up. They continue to take care of their patients. They keep reporting for work. Even if going to the hospital means they might get sick and die today, tomorrow, next week, next month. Can you imagine the kind of commitment this takes? I can’t.

    I’ve never been in any situation that even remotely resembles the risks they’re taking, day after day. If that’s not true courage, I don’t know what is.

    No basking under the limelight. No fanfare or fancy rhetoric.  No eye-bait posters or clever videos to advertise their craft.

    On the contrary. They’re just there —day after day — hidden behind the anonymity of their masks and PPEs, doing the extremely dangerous task of treating Covid patients while the rest of us are home, safe. Adjusting to, or complaining about our new normal. Working or flaking out from home. Doing our Zoom meetings. Exercising, reading, watching TV. Posting photos of our dinners or peddling our wares on social media. Comparing notes on how we sanitize our groceries. Doing all these safe and busy and wondrous things while our doctors, nurses, and medical front liners are out there in the cursed battlefield — risking their lives or losing their lives — just to keep us alive. Please pause and think of that.

    Doesn’t that bring you to tears? Maybe I’m just a sentimental fool. But the thought sometimes makes me cry. I could never be as brave.

    We personally know a young doctor who got sick while serving in a hospital, and later showed symptoms of Covid 19. Our hearts sank when he called my husband and asked for prayers. So we prayed for him every night, after dinner. And during the day, whenever God would remind us.

    It was an arduous wait for his test results. We were so thankful to God when he tested negative! But after resting for just a bit, our young doctor-friend went right back to the hospital, to take care of Covid 19 patients. He didn’t even take a long break.

    My husband and I took deep, long sighs when we heard that. Such courage. Such commitment. Such excellent work ethics. Of course he knows that this kind of commitment can cost him his life.

    I’m sure you’ve heard stories like this. Stories of astounding bravery from ordinary people. Doctors or nurses or medical staff who are our brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, friends, classmates, church mates. Ordinary people who are showing such extraordinary courage, in such perilous times.

    Many of our medical staff were the first casualties — the first to be struck and felled by the virus. Some recovered. But instead of going home and staying there, they went right back to the hospital to take care of the sick. They could’ve said, “Quota na ako. I’ve already done my share.” And they would’ve been absolutely right! Because it’s true — they had already put their lives on the line. Yet some chose to go back. Yes. Many went back to risk their lives all over again.

    Such legendary courage. Such quiet courage that’s not looking for an audience. Not waiting to be acknowledged. Not wanting to be admired by a horde of followers on YouTube.

    For our brave, new heroes who perished in the line of duty, we only have the usual obituaries to notify us of their passing.

    “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus said that.

    Isn’t amazing that our valiant heroes, our medical staff who risked and gave their lives  — isn’t it amazing that they laid down their lives for people who weren’t even their friends? Not friends. But mostly strangers. Strangers.

    Tell me. Would you lay down your life for a stranger?

    Today, I would like to honor our  present-day heroes.

    To our valiant doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are out there, risking theirs lives each day for us; to those who have gotten sick, or who died in the line of duty — our deepest, deepest respect and gratitude.

    Saludo sa mga BAYANI ng Bayan.