Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


By Domenick J. Maglio, PhD Traditional Realist

Government employees have many opportunities to go the extra mile. Many of the 9/11 first responders went beyond their duties and many paid with their lives to protect others. In disasters firemen, police officers and utility company employees from all over the country are encouraged by their local departments to volunteer their services to other communities. These public servants in crisis situations who put their lives in harm’s way helping others are true heroes.

There are many highways, streets and buildings named after lifelong politicians and government officials. Awards, plaques and ceremonies recognize their years of public service. Not only do most receive a six figure salary and a huge benefit package, they are aware if they play the political games of self promotion they will receive future acknowledgement by the public. These politicians at best are doing their jobs or at worst are just opportunists not necessarily heroes.

There are others in the community who are not public servants but in the midst of a crisis do something for another, which makes them memorable. These people do not expect anything for assisting another in the time of need. These often unknown doers who get things done arrive to volunteer. They are not getting paid to do demanding and at times perilous work but do it. They choose to help without any thought of receiving accolades or recognition.

In a Sayreville, New Jersey school 75 volunteers supplied and distributed food and basic necessities to local citizens. A lifeguard couple saved people in Brick, New Jersey. An off duty nurse delivered a baby on the side of the road. A blind man in Newark, New Jersey knocked on doors to tell neighbors devastated by Sandy where to get food and supplies. A New York University in-charge nurse safely evacuated critically ill children down 15 flights of wet stairs while manually pushing oxygen into their lungs. These amazing actions are only a fraction of examples of people helping people.

These people doing exceptional deeds often go unrecognized in the middle of a crisis. They receive no acknowledgement other than being aware they are doing the best they can. These individuals are frequently overlooked because they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

The citizens who felt the wrath and destruction of Super Storm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and the floods in Tennessee taught Americans that waiting for the government to bail them out was not the best policy. Neighbors helping neighbors was the quickest and most effective way of establishing a beachhead to rebuild their lives.  Expecting and waiting for FEMA and other government agencies did little but cause frustration and resentment. The government bureaucracy is too big and unwieldy to get things done as quickly as needed. In a crisis, response time is crucial.

An American tradition is helping others in times of emergency. Often family members or close friends give emotional support and help get things back to normal. Other times it may be a total stranger offering his skills and energy to help someone during tough times. This past January a man from California brought a truckload of toys to some of the children affected by Sandy since they had not had a Christmas celebration. Hard times often bring out the best in many of us.

These family members, neighbors and strangers are the backbone of every recovery operation. They can work alongside government workers when they arrive although they are there long after the government workers leave. Some temporary public employees cannot replace thousands of community member’s actions. When government servants are reassigned to other locations in the nation the process of rebuilding must go on until everything is somewhat back to normal.

It is illogical for us to expect government to solve our community problems. The federal bureaucrats are too far removed to correctly prioritize.

As self-reliant individuals we do as much as possible to dig out from under the mess of a disaster. Family, friends and neighbors join to lend a helping hand to complete the more physically demanding projects. The local community pulls together to do what is necessary to repair the damage instead of complaining and resenting the untimeliness and lack of response by public servants.

There are some people, strangers, who just appear in a time of crisis as guardian angels and do miraculous things to help out. Many of the unrecognized individuals assisting others are the true heroes in time of emergency. These heroes give our communities the resilience to bounce back from devastating disasters.

Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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