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The best that is in all of us

For all the attention we sometimes pay to television and internet videos, still images continue to have more power to symbolize important events in our lives. The photograph of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima and another of firefighters in a remarkably similar scene on the rubble of the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001 come to mind.

Even as hundreds of thousands of residents of the Houston, Texas, area struggled to escape massive flooding this week, another iconic photograph has been taken.

It is of a Houston SWAT team member carrying a young woman out of the flood water. In her arms is her 13-month-old baby, apparently asleep, blissfully ignorant of the danger.

Officer Daryl Hudeck epitomizes the courage and compassion of many people in many places who have reacted to others in danger by rescuing them from it. Many of those people live right here in our area.

During the weekend, a television commentator asked a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official about volunteers who risk their own safety to help others in situations such as the Houston flooding. From the television personality’s tone, we suspect he was seeking a response that rescuing people from disasters such as floods should be left up to well-trained, well-equipped professionals.

Not at all, responded the veteran of many natural calamities. Volunteers often are the difference between life and death for people awaiting rescue. They arrive before the professionals in many cases, and are critical components of any response to a disaster.

Bless them all, from the professionals like Hudeck to the anonymous volunteers who rush into danger simply because someone they don’t know needs help.

Long after images of the worst that is in human beings — and we have had plenty of that during the past few weeks — fade from our memories, the picture from Houston will remain a vivid reminder of the best that is in us.

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