2021 - August - Gazette - Courage

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, August 26, 2021

Courage

While driving through the western U.S. on a recent trip, I was struck by several acts of courage I saw during my travels. Park rangers at the Grand Canyon who walked out on the sheer ledges of a cliff to help rescue an injured hiker. Firefighters, pilots and other emergency workers in Utah who worked tirelessly to contain a wildfire. Colorado police, EMT’s, and highway personnel who cleared a canyon mudslide.  All of these are very dangerous situations, and thankfully courageous individuals showed up to help.

According to Merriam Webster, courage is defined as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” These acts of courage embody that definition.

Another definition of courage that I like is from author and research professor Brené Brown:

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”

In my work with dying, death and grief, I see ordinary courage on a daily basis. Individuals being present to and speaking from their hearts as their loved one is dying. Others speaking from their hearts as they share stories of their deceased loved one at funeral and memorial services. And still others speaking honestly about the pain their heart is feeling on the grief journey. I’m privileged to witness this courage.

In September, we will honor both heroic acts of courage and ordinary ones. Koch Funeral Home has been working with Alpha Fire Company to honor the emergency workers and others who lost their lives twenty years ago on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, because of the recent local increase in COVID cases, we had to cancel an in-person Remembrance Ceremony at Alpha Fire Company. However, we encourage you to take some time that day to stop and remember. Perhaps you can ring a bell or light a candle to recognize those who courageously responded and lost their lives due to these tragic events:

  • 8:46 a.m. - When American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center
  • 9:03 a.m. – When United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center
  • 9:37 a.m. – When American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west facade of the Pentagon
  • 9:59 a.m. – When the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed
  • 10:07 a.m. – When United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
  • 10:28 a.m. – When the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed

And maybe you can thank the next emergency responder you see for their courage. As Alpha Fire Company President Shawn Kauffman said, “Our duty to serve always outweighs our fear of the outcome. Any firefighter presented with the situations of 9/11 would have responded and performed to the best of their ability. Whether in the Towers of Manhattan, the Pentagon, or a field in Shanksville, responders stopped what they were doing and went to the scene of terror. Those of us not summoned watched with the knowledge that we would help if we could have helped.” The heroic acts of courage live on in our community.

In September, we will also be honoring ordinary acts of courage at our educational and support gatherings. You are invited to attend the following:

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH. If there are changes to our in-person gatherings because of COVID, we will provide updates on the website.

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

 

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