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by Michael Morse, contributing writer
(Photo: “Migrant Worker”, Dorothea Lange, from The Family of Man)
sat in a dark apartment, with her coat on because it was freezing in there, two
directors’ chairs that probably came from Walmart, the only furniture in the
place other than a twin-sized bed, without a headboard or sheets, but at least
it was covered with a blanket in the tiny bedroom.
had difficulty communicating with us at first, my limited Spanish just enough
to let me know she was sick. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to lift
herself off of one of the chairs and walk to the stretcher we had at the door,
ten feet away. I helped her.
a way, we all helped her; I was just the arm.
is what we do here in America. We help people. We have plenty, complain all day
about how much the other guy has, but in the end, we’re okay, with a roof over
our heads, and enough to eat, and supermarkets full of food, albeit expensive
food, but the basics are there, and we can afford them if we want, might have
to put the cell phones down for a while and get rid of a few apps, but we can
afford to live here, and live well, and still lend a hand.
we’ve got our problems, and lots of them, but I’d much rather be part of the
society that takes in the fifty-three year old woman in need of life saving
heart surgery than be stuck wherever she came from whose culture either cannot
afford to, or simply does not wish to care for their own.
got her to the hospital. Her blood pressure was 78/40, heart rate 140, tears
rolling down her face, bloody stool for three days, dizzy, weak and alone. She
had had open heart surgery in February, done by the most respected heart team
in the area, a very well-known doctor, the lead surgeon. People wait for months
for this man.
a poor woman with nothing was his patient filled me with pride. I must be
getting soft, one day I’m on a tirade about illegal immigrants, the next I’m in
their living room, proud to be the figurehead of a society that takes them in.
don’t know, we’ve come to a place where it will be impossible to keep it up. I
only hope that the rest of the world catches up with us, morally, financially
we can all as human beings with similar hopes and dreams and problems take care
of our own, no matter from where we came.
of coming from places, our armed forces have been putting their boots on the
ground in countries where we are needed all over the world, for generations.
I mention I’m proud to be part of this society? I am, and still wish there was
a better way, but we do what we must to get it right, here and half-way around
the world, and hopefully, within my lifetime, I’ll start to see some progress
toward that end.
safe, Americans, here and wherever we are needed, and stand tall, we’ll do our
part to keep this a peaceful, benevolent society with opportunity and
compassion for people who need and deserve it.
I suppose the ones that do not will manage to get theirs, but at the end of the
day we will know we have done our best.
put the lonely woman into intensive care. I still wonder why she lived in an
empty apartment with no furniture.
Michael Morse spent 23 years as a
firefighter/EMT with the Providence Fire Department before retiring in 2013 as
Captain, Rescue Co. 5. He is an author of several books, most offering fellow
firefighter/EMTs and the general population alike a poignant glimpse into one
person’s journey through life, work and hope for the future. He is a Warwick