... comes to mind as I read this report and others about emergency personnel canvassing neighborhoods inundated by Ike's storm surge Sunday morning, in 'round-the-clock rescue efforts.
Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, rescue dogs and structural engineers fanned out under a full moon, the report states, rescuing thousands of Texans — 140,000 by some estimates — who ignored mandates to flee Hurricane Ike, and sparing them another night among the destruction.
I acknowledge there were those who could not ... but there were an awful lot who could have, and chose not to. They were labeled "stalwarts." And they're nothing new, really. There have always been those who who choose to ride out the storm in the comfort of their own home, rather than heading for the high country. It happened in Wilkes-Barre, Kingston and other Pennsylvania communities flooded in 1972.
The relief efforts in our own town were headed by a man named Bill Berti. He didn't use the word "stalwarts" for those who chose to remain in their homes in spite of the orders to leave, then calling for rescue from over-worked personnel who had plenty of other things to do - yet went and rescued them nonetheless. Mr. Berti had another word for these stalwarts ... but it's not one for polite conversation. And no matter what he thought, Mr. Berti sent his people out - and often went out himself - to pluck someone off the roof of their home and get them to a shelter.
May God bless and sustain the men and women - and the dogs! - who go out time and again, no matter how dangerous conditions might be, on these rescue efforts under way in Texas - and will continue to do so until their job is done, and all are safe ... now THOSE are the real stalwarts.