Retiree Noah Copeland is a frequent contributor to The Meridian Star’s editorial page and to reader-written publications like the annual Profile and Relay for Life special sections. He wrote this column to thank the emergency responders — from volunteer firefighters to hospital workers — who helped his wife, Kay, after she took a bad fall and broke her ankle.

Where have all the heroes gone? From time to time, this question is asked.

When I was a boy, we had heroes like Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. Men in sports like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, “Satchel” Paige, Mickey Mantle and the two greatest heavyweight boxers of all time — the “Brown Bomber,” Joe Louis, and the “Brockton Block-Buster,” Rocky Marciano. It was Rocky Marciano who wept in his dressing room after he knocked out the aging Joe Louis, Rocky’s hero and idol.

Of course, all of you my age will remember another hero and role model, Johnny Weismueller, a gold medalist in swimming in the Olympics of that era who became the legendary Tarzan of the Jungle.

In every generation, there have always been heroes and role models for the youth of our country. Now, I ask again, “Where have all the heroes gone?”

We have many superstar cry babies who make megabucks nowadays — superstars such as Charles Barkley, a great talent in basketball who doesn’t want to be a role model for our children and grandchildren, and baseball players, track stars and athletes of every kind who break the rules by using steroids and anything else they can get, outside the rules, to gain an advantage. And they break long-standing records in almost every sport because they didn’t play by the rules!

Well, I guess I have just gone “around the world” to get to the answer to the question I have asked as to where all the heroes have gone!

And I feel certain that the answer is look to our men and women today wearing the uniforms of courage, freedom, equality and justice — our men and women proudly wearing the uniforms of the United States of America ... heroes-in-arms, serving our nation at home and abroad. Many even now are in harm’s way, making the supreme sacrifice. They are heroes all, and I, as many of you, pray for them daily.

But now, I want to point out some unsung heroes, wearing uniforms of another kind — those clothed in uniforms of courage, compassion, caring and commitment to their profession.

They are our first responders in every emergency. They are our police officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers/emergency medical technicians, our doctors and nurses and health-care providers in every field.

They are serving God and country and need to be acknowledged and commended as heroes, as well.

First of all, I want to acknowledge the men of the community in which I live, the men of the Snell Volunteer Fire Department who came to the rescue of my wife, Kay, in her time of great need.

And now I have to offer special thanks to more heroes in uniform — and to mention a few of them by name. I failed to write down some names, but they know who they are. And so does God.

They took great care of my wife in the emergency room of Rush Foundation Hospital and, later, when she was admitted to the main hospital.

Thank you, Dr. Snyder in the emergency room, Dr. Campbell (she is a real angel), Dr. Watson and his nurse Dawn Moore — I couldn’t remember her name at first, but the “Moore” I thought about it, her name “Dawned” on me! Lighten up, folks, joke, joke!

And thanks to registered nurse Vickie Riddle and to David Bonner, who is director of nurses, and to Cindy Massey, nurse manager of Fourth Floor South at Rush Foundation Hospital.

Last, but not least, thanks to these angels of mercy — Gloria Boyd, Tammy Carroll, Lou Clark, Lori Daughtery, Mark Donald, Jeanette Fowler, Rebecca Hearn, Cassandra Hopson, Linda Jones, Erica Land, Teri Mann, Ann Mercer, Kim Morris, Dee Dee Richardson, Jan Shepard, Lee Thompson, Carolyn Tripp, Sunday White, Barbara Willis and my sister in Christ from Tabernacle United Methodist Church of Meridian, Tavanna Carver.

So many times, our health-care providers are bombarded with gripes and complaints from every side. Some warranted, many not!

Yes, I know we have all, at one time or another, met up with “Dr. Doom,” “Nurse Witch,” and “Vampira-Lab Technician,” people who seem to know absolutely nothing of compassion or caring. But one thing I know: They don’t roam the corridors of Anderson, Riley, Rush — or Watkins Hospital in Quitman, where my wife is now. At least I’ve never seen them at any of these places!

Again, you are heroes all in my book.

React to this story: