AL HAMNIK: Look no further than I-94 nightmare for your real heroes

2014-01-25T18:15:00Z 2014-01-27T14:17:22Z AL HAMNIK: Look no further than I-94 nightmare for your real heroesAl Hamnik Times Columnist
January 25, 2014 6:15 pm  • 

Good morning, class. Please open your books to the chapter entitled "True Heroes -- No Kidding."

Pay attention, please. There may be a quiz.

The following comes under the heading of common sense, though Americans often miss the point when picking fluff over what's important in our daily lives.

Way too often, they find their heroes in sports, where crazy salaries, athletic prowess and clever marketing portray them as super beings from another universe.

Here is the real truth. You can all thank me later.

• LeBron James is not a hero because he has two championship rings and goes airborne at halfcourt on his jaw-dropping dunks.

• Peyton Manning is not a hero for breaking a bushel of NFL passing records and getting to another Super Bowl.

• Joe Girardi is not a hero for being baseball's most coveted manager last offseason.

• Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are not heroes for having their names on two Stanley Cup trophies.

• Brandon Marshall is not a hero because he can catch anything in the same time zone.

• Adam Dunn is not a hero because he can bounce home runs off NASA's space station.

• Rafael Nadal is not a hero because his serves break the sound barrier.

You saw real "heroes" in action Thursday afternoon during the horrific pileup on I-94 near Michigan City that included 46 vehicles -- half of them semis -- three fatalities and more than 20 others who were hospitalized.

It could've been much worse, if not for first responders who were on the scene in minutes. Police, fire, medical, emergency crews. Where do you begin thanking these people?

Sub-zero temperatures. Trapped motorists literally entombed in twisted steel and metal. Bleeding. Scared beyond belief. Darkness. Panic.

One official called it a "war zone."

Nothing personal against your sports stars and their on-field dominance, but that pales in comparison to what responders were able to accomplish with extensive training and preparation.

They comforted those trapped in their vehicles, encouraging them, calming them, assuring them that help had arrived and they would be OK.

They knew what to say to someone in distress. A warm blanket. That air of confidence that comes with the job. All these traits helped the rescue go smoothly.

Eastbound backups caused by the pileup stretched for miles. Some motorists ran out of gas. They, too, were freezing and confused.

But law enforcement made the rounds, offering alternate routes while emergency responders provided gas to motorists stranded on I-94, allowing them to run their engines and thaw out.

These are true heroes, faceless and nameless.

I'm reminded of former Detroit Tigers' slugger Kirk Gibson after he put two home runs on the roof at old Comiskey Park in Chicago and then downplayed it when interviewed afterward.

Gibson said his impressive feat didn't matter because he and his teammates would play in an empty stadium if they had to, long as those checks keep coming.

That mindset continues in sports today.

Heroes? Stop yourself.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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