Our neighbor, Mr. Rogers left a quote of his mothers in a book, it read “Always look for the helpers, there will always be helpers.” Today, it’s often used after a tragedy to comfort people, or to tell people that someone is coming to help.

However, that was not Mrs. Rogers intention of the quote, not exactly. It was to comfort a young Fred Rogers, to prepare him as a child when or if he were to witness something bad, possibly a car crash, a natural disaster, etc. To comfort a child, someone without the means to help themselves. That one quote stuck with Mr. Rogers and by proxy prepared him for what dangers may lie ahead.

For better or worse that quote has been taken out of context, and this isn’t me saying it’s being used wrong, rather to explain the truth behind it.

I’ve unknowingly used it in the wrong context, nonetheless I understand the need to be prepared. This is where I would add a bit of my resume as a servicemember, security professional, fireman, etc. and brag that I’m a macho man and I know best, and I couldn’t possibly ever need help. However, that line of thinking kills and is categorically wrong.

The thing is, who is the helper when I need help? Who does a fireman call when they’ve fallen through a floor of a burning building? A cop when the welfare check turns into homicidal person with nothing to lose? A lone medic doing CPR? A school resource officer when all hell breaks loose, and they’ve got 2000 kids to protect from a gunman?

Well, a team of fireman, a squad of cops, another medic in the ambo, or God forbid a teacher trained, equipped, willing and able to protect her kids.

In our day-to-day lives, we must be prepared to charge in and face the dangers. That quote, as pliable as it may be, isn’t meant for adults. We should have already taken the steps necessary to respond to any number of scenarios.

I hope I never have to call for backup, but if I do I hope it’s the type of people who responded on 9-11, not knowing the dangers, just knowing someone, somewhere needed help.

People like Tim Duffy, who rode his motorcycle in full bunker gear through ash and debris to ground zero. Here is a link to his charity where he links servicemembers with therapy dogs.

Men like Gary Box whose last photo was of him disembarking his fire apparatus and running towards danger, screams, and ultimately his death.

My good friend Garrett Goodwin, God rest his soul, was one of the first to respond on 9-11, only to later succumb to the illness caused by the hazards of the cleanup.

Men and women have always stood guard, answered the call, responded knowing the dangers. So I leave you with this, look for the helpers or become one, you may be the first responder for the next tragedy.