Tuesday, August 4, 2015

HOMETOWN HEROES By Catherine Lanigan

Hometown Heroes
By Catherine Lanigan

            Many of you know that Rula was called away from RWA conference in NYC last week due to a death in the family.  She is the angel over my shoulder as I write this, but we bounced around some ideas for this blog last month. I speak for all of us, Rula, our sympathies are with you and all your family.
As romance writers we are constantly looking for that next set of characteristics, attributes and abs that will evolve into our leading man. Each time a new story starts percolating for me, I’m on the hunt.  Action heroes, those soldiers and military men hold a huge hunk of my heart because my father was just such a man. As an Army Captain in WWII,  he escaped capture by the Japanese and on two broken ankles from his parachute jump into New Guinea, he met up with his company after 23 days on a hill, holding off the enemy to save his men; no food, little water, and marched (on crutches) with them to victory. Believe me, my leading men have a lot to live up to.
      This is my dad’s graduation picture from Wabash College. I think he was very handsome.                              



Heroes can also be the men who change our lives. Here’s mine.


This, obviously, is Michael Douglas from Romancing the Stone.  I was honored to meet him and spend nearly a week on the set of the movie during the re-shoots. He was just about everything a hero should be. Killer gorgeous, funny, very intelligent and easy to be around. He’s still my #1 star pick. Since I live in Los Angeles from time to time and my husband has had our “world’s tiniest houseboat” there for over 15 years, Michael qualifies for a hometown hero in my book.

Anyway, you can see my dilemma in finding guys who “go the distance”: beat the odds, save the day, and sweep the heroine off her feet.
Our small town of La Porte, Indiana has a pretty big 4th of July parade every year. In fact, many decades ago the Governor of Indiana declared us the “State Capital for a Day.”  We still carry that distinction as we draw over 30,000 people for the event.  The Parade starts with a fly over of military jets, and this year were a couple antique planes performing barrel rolls and antics in the sky. Amazing. The parade is complete with marching bands, floats, clowns, antique cars, and fire engines. Lots of fire engines from every township, county and surrounding city and hamlet.
This year as I looked at the young fire fighters riding on top of the huge trucks, I felt that zing of pride when I see individuals standing up, taking charge and risking their very lives to come to the aid of others.




In our every day “busyness” we go to work, sometimes in heavy drive-time traffic, run errands, car pool the kids, take elderly parents to their doctors’ appointments and somehow manage to hit the grocery store, fix supper for the family and get the laundry done so that there are clean clothes for everyone in the morning. We do all these things because every day, of every waking and sleeping minute, there are people watching out for us. They are our local police, firefighters, EMP’s, Forest Rangers, prison guards, neighborhood security watchmen and on a larger scale, our armed forces.

For most of us we think of police as the pain in the neck watchdogs who are trying to trap us if we drive too fast. I almost cringe writing this because in my neighborhood we have several policemen who live here. In the middle of the night, I hear them speed out and race to help other policemen (and women) at the scene of accidents. Lately, there has been a large concerted effort to break up the gangs and drug rings here. The “stings” are as dangerous as any film script writer could make them. Yet, my neighbors are on the job so that in the future, the kids in this town won’t get pulled into that underworld of drugs and the horrors that go with it.
When I was sixteen my closet caught on fire. My quick-thinking father got the garden hose and started putting out the fire before the firemen arrived. Thankfully, the house didn’t burn down because my parents were home. But what if they hadn’t been?  Years later, my father left a fire burning in the living room fireplace. This time, my father was overcome with smoke inhalation. My mother managed to call the fire department. THAT time, the firemen saved my father’s life and put out the fire before the house burned down.
I can think of a dozen times when the police and the fire fighters have come to my personal rescue. When I read our stories, it is amazing how close to the truth they really are. What about you?  Do you have hometown heroes that need an accolade?  Do you have any stories of rescue in your life? 

Just in case you want to reach me: www.catherinelanigan.com; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn. cathlanigan@aol.com

24 comments:

  1. I always love home-town heroes, especially the volunteer ones. Great post. Our hearts are with you, Rula.

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I would imagine you have a lot of volunteer firemen, etc. in your area. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. We definitely do. I was getting hamburger at the meat counter in the local market one day when Steve looked up mid-weigh, said, "Sorry, Liz," and was gone--it was a call and there were no choices.

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    3. For some reason, LIz, I have replied to you twice and this is the third time, but my reply is not getting posted. Thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comments!!

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  2. Thank you for the touching post, Catherine.

    I have a world of admiration for your father.

    I also admire and greatly appreciate the men and women who serve to protect us, whether it be in the military or police services. Their jobs have become only more challenging in today's society, and we don't express our appreciation to them nearly enough.

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    1. Thanks, Kate. Someday, I will write my dad's story and though he's been dead over twenty years, I still get far too emotional to put it down on paper. It's one heck of a story, believe me.

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  3. My sympathies, Rula. I'm glad we had a chance to meet in person and chat before you had to leave.

    Great post, Catherine. Tragedy struck close to home last month and I've got to say I'm proud of how we in Chattanooga rallied around the brave men and women who serve.

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    1. Carol, I'm so sorry to hear about your tragedy there , but again thank GOD for your/our brave men and women who never cease to rally to the fight.

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  4. My deepest sympathies to you and your family Rula.

    I have so much respect for our policemen and firemen. I know that the police get a bad wrap because of some of the things we've seen in the news lately, but I have to believe that most are committed to doing their job of keeping all of us safe, and I appreciate them. I always admire the dedication of firemen. I'll never forget 9/11 and how they risked their lives for so many others.

    I always thought Michael Douglas was an excellent actor. I'm a fan of many of his movies. ( :

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    1. Laurie, THANK YOU for bringing up the bravest of the brave during 911. I wrote a book about just such a hero...not published yet...but someday. I think that time in our nation's history was so devastating that for most of it, we just can't pull ourselves to even think about it. God bless.

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  5. Beautiful post, Catherine. My prayers are with Rula and her family.
    I love stories with home town heroes. I work for the police department, as a civilian, so I'm honored to work each day with heroes.

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    1. Jill, I'm so impressed! God love you! And bless your work you do

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  6. This post and the comments brought tears to my eyes. Your father was an amazing man. In my small town, there are many who put their lives on the line for us and I'm so thankful. And I'm thankful for the service men and women who keep this country free.
    \My prayers are with you and your family, Rula!

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    1. You are a dear soul, Patricia. I adore your posts and as you can tell, I am very proud of my father and his dedication to his country and this little town I now live in. He did so many things for the community as did my mother. I doubt I will ever live up to the high bar they set.

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  7. Excellent post :) I loved the photo of your dad. My dad was a hero, too.
    My sister set the closet on fire when she was young… not a place for a teen to hide and smoke in her case LOL
    I think cops need a whole lot more applause.
    Rula, many many prayers are heading your way.

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    1. Pamela,
      God bless your dad as well. WE ALL stand on the shoulders of those before us, but too many people forget the sacrifices they made many times on a daily basis--all for our sakes for a free country that we take for granted. Thanks for stopping by, Pamela. These comments mean so much to me.

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  8. Sending prayers to Rula and her family. Catherine, WWII heroes like your father are national treasures. They fought in horrible conditions as do our men and women in the military today. My hubby was a marine and a volunteer fireman in our small Washington town at one point. We lived with the plectron (sp?) on in our bedroom every night, and he got called out many, many times. Love your post--brings back heart warming memories.

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    1. Roz, you are so sweet and we're all praying for Rula and the family. It's been a difficult time for her in more ways than one.
      I SOOOOO agree that our WWII vets...actually all our veterans are national treasures. Give your hubby a hug from me. He's the best!

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  9. Lovely post, Catherine. Your dad was a true hero. Can't imagine what he went through. (waving hi to Carol here) I too am in Chattanooga so your tribute to those who protect us really touched my heart. I love small town Fourth of July parades. Went to one in Wyoming several summers ago and found it thrilling; also, the ones in Ohio when I lived there with horses and lawn tractors instead of floats but just as much fun as the bigger ones. My thoughts are with you, Rula.

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    1. Thank you so much, Leigh. I'm glad you like the parades, too. They make me literally swell with pride. When my dad was a young father, he was in charge of the parade for many years. The parade is run by the Jaycees, the Junior Chamber of Commerce. My mother pitched in as a Jayshee, and I remember my dad riding in his red convertible one year. In the late 1980's I was Grand Parade Marshall. I'm still proud of that moment in time.

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  10. Catherine, no wonder you're such a pretty lady - your father is gorgeous! And you can see in his eyes the determination that kept him going on broken ankles. My dad was a hero, too. Didn't like to talk about it, but my mother gave me details. I love firemen. One local truck came to Ron's rescue when he had low blood sugar (25!) in the middle of the night and the ambulance crew was tied up at the hospital. One man in his late forties, maybe, and two handsome young men who took their cues from him. They were so calm and confident, that I relaxed immediately. Bless men who know what they're doing. And even those you don't, but can be charming doing it. WE LOVE YOU, RULA!

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  11. Hi, Muriel, you are so very sweet and I agree. He was (and is in heaven) very handsome. He was incredibly intelligent. Had a photographic memory, that I did NOT inherit...got a bit of dyslexia instead--like my mother and sister..I have to read things several times before I get it. And he was an attorney. He could quote Shakespeare and law books like crazy. I worked in his office for seven years. It was torture. Just kidding.
    Again, our EMP guys are all over this country are saving lives as we speak. HOW did we exist without them? When I fell two years ago and crushed my knee cap into 13 pieces, those EMP's were incredible. It was below freezing and I couldn't move. I was so cold and in so much pain and they were so gentle, re-assuring and got those pain killers into me but fast. God bless them every one.

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  12. Wonderful post, Catherine! I think we owe so much to the men and women who put themselves in harm's way for us. We often take it for granted. And my virtual hugs are being shared with Rula during this difficult time! <3

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  13. Thanks, everyone! Hugs back at you all! :)

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