By Rosalie Tirella
I know, it’s FOX, but I want to talk about a photo – a video frame, frozen in time, courtesy of Fox News TV. It’s on my Face Book page. It’s after the Highland, Illinois, mass murder. At the left, in the photo, you see the local police officer, walking away, his hands covering his face. An American First Responder in agony. A human with an all too human response – his hands covering the agony – his human “response” to immense suffering, sorrow and death. This cop is not wielding his gun. He’s not channeling Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, chest out, running into flames and gun smoke, all macho man. He’s just a guy. A youngish man not wanting to share his feelings with the TV cameras or TV pundits or news crews … not wanting to talk at all, to anybody.
What did this Illinois First Responder, first on the crime scene, first in this latest American war zone, see? What did he hear? What did he touch? What did he smell? … Maybe this first responder is a man with his own little boy or girl, a child who was at the parade or who was watching the festivities on the local cable station before all hell broke loose in this wealthy Illinois suburb, an IT-COULD-NEVER-HAPPEN-HERE, LEAVE-IT-TO-BEAVER kind of American suburb. He’s a man, just a man, exiting his local war zone! …where he saw – maybe he was the first to see – the dead child with legs blown off; a father, dead, too, his body thrown over his little toddler as he, in his last moments of life, wanted to save his boy, give the gift of LIFE in a war zone. Nearby, his wife dead. … Did the First Responder see all this…the bloodbath, the father’s heroism?
The child will face this day for seemingly eternity: as a grade schooler, as a teenager heading to the prom, as a college student graduating from college, as a young adult just starting out … as an old person close to dying.
Did the police officer think of this as he “responded” to the murderer?
First Responders – our local police officers, state police and EMT kids (they’re often in their 20s!) – see all the horrific, unfathomable carnage. They hear the final moans, maybe prayers to God or some saint … or a loved one. They must wonder, like me, WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END?
How do these First Responders, our local men and women, out on the job every day, sometimes not getting the respect they deserve, “process” this kind of crime scene? A scene our soldiers saw during WW II or the Ukranians experience daily as Putin pounds their country to dust? How do regular local guys and gals, our neighbors, go home … and go on living? They’re not superficial, chatty TV personalities maybe making a career out of a murder, blabbing the same cliches over and over again into mics. They’re just our local cops and “staties” – they’re not “word people.” They’re America’s first responders!
A housekeeper at a Connecticut motel spoke to me a while ago – three or four American mass murderers ago! … She was older, overworked and underpaid. She was sad over this last mass shooting in our country, shaking her head over her big rolling cart of towels, hand soap, bathroom tissue … She said she was friends with a local state trooper who was the first to respond to a local murder scene – a real nice guy – who “killed himself.” She said all the trauma was too much for him, it’s cumulative for these guys and gals. Her heart ached for her First Responder friend who chose not to “respond” any more.