opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Mark Shields
Mark Shields
11 Oct 2014
Truly Right From the Start

In September 2002, before the Bush administration got its green light from a supine Congress and a full six … Read More.

4 Oct 2014
An Obvious Republican Front-runner

Let me admit upfront that I have a real soft spot for people who dare to run for public office. For most of us,… Read More.

27 Sep 2014
Will Republicans Draw Wrong Conclusion From the 2014 Campaign?

If Republicans have become more bullish about their party's prospects for victory Nov. 4, it could be … Read More.

Recognizing Heroes in Our Midst


That terrifying Tuesday morning, now 14 Septembers ago, when terrorists connected to al-Qaida hijacked jetliners and drove them into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center will be forever with us — just as we can never forget the 343 New York City firefighters who, on a mission to rescue fellow human beings in the burning buildings, walked bravely into the fires of hell to their deaths. Almost overnight, ambitious politicians everywhere were frantically getting their pictures taken with firefighters, who — in spite of the fact that they were public employees and often even dues-paying union members — had emerged as America's most popular heroes.

The current Ebola scare in the U.S. is not 9/11. But once again, we need to recognize American heroes whom we see every day and whom we have too often taken for granted. Let us begin with Nina Pham, the 26-year-old Texas Christian University graduate who, as a critical care nurse, voluntarily put herself in harm's way to treat Thomas Eric Duncan, a stranger from Liberia who would be the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States. The eldest of three daughters born to parents who had immigrated to the U.S. from their native Vietnam after the war, Nina, according to her medical colleagues, has a single standard for the treatment of those in her care: "What would I do if it were my mom, dad or grandparent?"

As this is written, Nina herself is battling Ebola, while on the airwaves, those who do not know — and who ought to know better — idly and endlessly speculate on whose mistakes caused her infection.

Missing is our national recognition of the constant courage and dedication of fellow human beings we sometimes bloodlessly identify as "health care providers." Nurses are the firefighters of 2014.

Unlike celebrated Wall Street wiseguys, they don't spend their time and energy trying to figure out how to move their money into a Cayman Island account to evade taxes. Nurses and hospital workers, after their rent is paid and after the food is put on the table, have precious little money left to spend, let alone to move. They do not do what they do for money or for fame or for celebrity; they do it for humanity.

Nurses and medical workers don't get asked for their autographs or approached by interviewers for their views on the economy. They do get up every day and they do work long, hard hours — giving of their considerable knowledge, talent and, yes, compassion — to cure the sick, to reassure the fearful and to comfort the dying. Let us recognize and let us honor these genuine American heroes who walk among us. The next time we see a nurse, let us tell him or her, "Thank you. Thank you for your service."

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... These medical heroes have been disarmed before this new enemy by people more inclinded to let disease ravage the cities, and for themselves, to resort to faith healing. I live in Michigan, and there is no reason what so ever that Ebola will not clean our collective clock. The local hospital bragged that they have three isolation rooms. Three!
How many hazmat suits, masks gloves, gowns? How many police to cover the exits? How much good medicine and trained personel? We are so unready for this invasion; and only the prospect that God will save his own stands behind that fact. Good health costs money. So does the care and feeding of rich people. So does mindless hopeless war all over the face of the globe cost money. And something else war does is weaken people, starve them, and throw them together in refugee camps where Ebola will play a devil from hell in the last scene in many lives.

Those people who think the cities are the corporate identity of American Immorality will see them burn rather than send them a nickle. They are built out of immorality; but that immorality grows out of their poverty and exploitation, and not the other way around. Good people are reduced under economic pressures, and bad people are made worse. We cannot expect the environment to be pressed for all of its wealth while there are still people that can be reaped for their wealth. And of course, the ultimate wealth, the meaning of meanings is life, and when we say the poor and diseased are cursed by God, and hustle past them like Priests and Levites, or say they suffer their own sins and injustice as we may all be said to do; they miss the ultimate truth, that none are innocent, and only few are guilty.

In letting disease be the judge of those who shall live and who shall die we are ourselves being the judge. The religious who are the very same standing firm in defense of property rights rather than for spiritual values are ememies of the public health system, and have tried always to deny it funds. Some of their notions are simply wrong or quackery built on the foundation of their ignorance, but there is plenty of malice for humanity in their actions as well. They have got it and they don't want to share it. When those with disease have it, and do want to share it; do they plan to shoot them on sight?
The best defense against pandemics has to occur where the disease first strikes. The problem with that approach is the problem that even in the late middle ages was the fact behind the Black Death. Capitalism needs trade for profit, and the need for profit justifies every risk that must be taken. Some times that risk is not suffered alone by those likely to profit by it. And history teaches us that these curses of war and epidemic are a boon to Capitalism. Capitalism never bloomed into life except over the mountains of corpses delivered by the Bubonic Plague. In very short order you have the discovery of America and the Protestant reformation- and all of the wars that entailed. I would absolutely guarantee that some one, and perhaps many some ones, are already counting the money they will make off of Ebola.

The right must know that in their dispersed condition that Ebola is little serious threat. Looking at the people in yellow suits and full masks spraying bleach on everything in sight; I wonder how often that will occur before those able to simply walk away, and shrug their shoulders? We have no money. As much as in Africa, and in the rest of the world, in the name of profit, all other expenses must be minimized. We are broken, emotionally and phsyically. No one, not even the healthy and strong has the strength to fight this thing, because even the healthy and strong are taxed of those qualities in the name of profit. Profit and disease, disease and war walk hand in hand where ever they go.
I am only stating the obvious. If rich people in order to avoid taxes will send working people daily over tired bridges insufficient for the traffic they must bear; they will let chance govern our future as no sane person would do by choice. Have we learned so much, struggled so hard for knowledge only to let faith and fate be our masters?
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:01 AM
Texas nurses are not so destitute as your essay might lead us to believe. With average incomes in excess of $65,000 (experienced RN's nearly $100,000), they are paid well for their service. That being said, the administrators are extremely wealthy with the top administrators looking at over seven figures when stock options are added in. None of this detracts from the service that dedicated medical personnel provide; your praise is earned. But this is not a case of working to the bone for no personal gain.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mike Ohr
Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:21 AM
Heroe worship is totally overboard in this country.Olympic athletes are described by the media as "heroes".They are not.The bastardization of the word heroes by those who wish to patronize somebody is ridiculous.Doing your job does not make you a heroe.Our great leaders admonish us to "thank the soldier" knowing full well 98.5% of us will never be that soldier.Why? Our leaders do not pay for those soldiers or the wars they send them to. Red ink is the budget norm today.We are not bothered by extra taxes.Why?So we patronize our media anointed heroes go back to our supersize slurpy and feel good.In the mean time our country goes to hell.Why? Because this is what our leaders want.They get to operate unimpeded by people mad at war taxes.Get to know that all soldiers are volunteers not draftees so no families screaming at them when they get killed.You volunteered you see. Get to send soldiers all over the world to fight al-Queda,Taliban,ISIS,Syrian rebels,Ebola without a reason or plan.Without declaration of war,without paying for any of it.What a win win for the oil companies.Thats the real reason you see,always has been.Control of resources and the means to get them,like the Suez Canal.People in the media like Mark Shields here should be asking why 98.5% of all Americans are not in the least involved with what America does.Why there is no National Service as in Europe.Why nothing is taxed to pay for it.Why rich people got a 279% pay raise in the last 30 years and the rest of us got zip.Why states like Washington gave 30 billion in tax breaks to corporations while its schools are 4 billion short of money to pay for basic education 1-12.Why higher education is no longer funded.$25,000 a year here in Washington state.$1,500 a year in Germany even for upper degrees and foreign students.Why there is such concern for Islamic rebels on the border of Turkey and Syria and none for childrens education here.Infrastructure here,Healthcare here.Pick a topic.Why isn't this media and those usually concerned with people (democrats) are not shouting to the roof tops.One knows why conservatives are silent.They are the 279% pay raise,or the war mongers who profit like Halliburton.So thank you Mark Shields for reminding us to patronize somebody.I remind you if we all participated in our country we wouldn't have to worship any heroe.WE would be them!
Comment: #3
Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:02 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Mark Shields
Oct. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Patrick Buchanan
Pat BuchananUpdated 24 Oct 2014
Ray Hanania
Ray HananiaUpdated 23 Oct 2014
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 23 Oct 2014

17 Mar 2007 Elections Are Not About the Candidates

19 Apr 2008 Change Has Been No Friend to Pennsylvania

14 Jul 2012 Mitt Weak on Defense -- Politically