Earl Smith of New Martinsville was able to check an item off his bucket list on July 23-meet and shake hands with a real American hero.
He fulfilled that wish when he was honored to do so with members of New Martinsville's electric and street departments. Smith and his wife Marsha were privileged to serve them a special cake for their lunchtime dessert as a way of thanking them for their hard work and dedication during the aftermath of the derecho storm that wreaked havoc in the local area June 29.
Smith said after the storm hit, he called the New Martinsville Police dispatch where a very charming and helpful dispatcher informed him of the severity of the situation, adding the electric would be off up to two weeks. "Wow, for someone with health problems, that was a heavy blow." Thankfully after a few calls to old contractor buddies a generator was in the back of a pick-up truck on its way to his house. Before long lights, fans, refrigerator, and freezer were running.
Pictured are city workers with the cake presented to them by Earl Smith, who thanked them for their quick and reliable service after the June 29 derecho. (Photo by Lauren Riggs)
"I realize that the New Martinsville Electric Department had some help from Wadsworth, Ohio, and Erb Electric, but everything was directed and coordinated by Dave White and his crew and the Street Department by Gary Willey and his outstanding group. These guys were working day and night stopping to eat and maybe, just maybe, a short nap," said Smith.
Then four days later he was in his living room with a fan blowing full speed on him with an ice pack on my head. "Lo and behold, my ceiling fan started turning," recalls Smith. "The air conditioning came on, house lights up." He immediately thought, "But it's only day four, the dispatcher said two weeks." It was then that he found his real heroes.
"They have been right in front on me all these years and it took a storm to open my eyes," exclaimed Smith. "Their dedication and sacrifice is so important to those who need oxygen on a regular basis or the elderly gentlemen with prostate problem that needs light for those numerous nightly trips to the bathroom-the small things we take for granted until we need it."
"I know the guys in both the Electric and Street Departments pulled off a feat that probably could not be matched by any small town in America and for that we all should pat them on the back and say 'Job well done'!'
"When I was young and growing up, my hero was my uncle, Master Chief Boatswain Mate John W Hissom. On December 7, 1941, on board the Battleship USS Pennsylvania in Pearl Harbor, Uncle Johnny won the Silver Star for bravery for his heroics during that terrible battle," recalled Smith. "Somewhere along our pathway of morality we lost sight of what made a hero. All at once an overpaid basketball player from Los Angeles is our hero, if we forget about the rape case in Colorado. Or maybe the hero football star from Pittsburgh, if we forget about the charge of assault against the young college girl in Georgia. Then there is the young female singer who rode Disney and her daddy's coattails to fame and now is talking about cosmetic surgery to make her more 'sexy', nice hero. Others worship these groups of high-paid, no-talent rap groups they call music lead by the likes of Kanye West. Heroes? Really heroes?
"I am beginning to believe the storm of June 29 was a wakeup call from God to get our moral compass point back on course to that true north setting," said Smith.
"I would ask that when you see a New Martinsville Electric Department or Street Department worker, give them a pat on the back, tell them thanks, buy them a cup of coffee, for they are the 'Real Deal' the 'Real American Hero'," said Smith.