Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thank you, Stephen Tyrone Johns

I was originally going to make a post about how nurses and nursing assistants are not paid nearly enough for the essential and physically demanding work that they (someday, we!) do. I've always intellectually agreed with that point; now that CNA clinicals are 3/4 finished for me, that assertion is also sincerely felt in every single aching myofibril in my entire body. However, I will save that post for another time, because the point is also true for security guards at high-risk targets, and current events have made that aspect of it so much more immediate today.

I went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC once, skipping out on the spur of the moment while I was at a medical informatics conference there. Because it was an impulse visit, and I hadn't checked beforehand, it turned out to be closed when I got there; I forget why--a holiday, perhaps, or something of the sort--so I didn't get to go in, but I committed to going the next time I was in DC. On a normal day, like today, there may have been as many as a couple of thousands visitors inside, I heard on the press conference this morning.

Stephen Tyrone Johns died today when a white supremacist entered the Holocaust Museum with a rifle and shot him. Apparently he was stopped by security guards immediately upon entering; after he shot Mr. Johns, the other security guards shot him, critically injuring him.

I don't want this post to be about the crazies, though; although they certainly appear to be on the upswing (the Tiller murder, this shooting, the homophobic online libel of a good friend of mine in reaction to the announcement of his memorial) in response to Obama's election and his positive domestic and international actions. Orcinus and others are good sources of information on the rise of eliminationism on the right. I'll leave that coverage to them for now.

The point I want to make is that on a daily basis Mr. Johns protected as many as thousands of innocent people in a high-profile target, including children, as part of his job, and today that job cost him his life. He performed a very valuable service, one that our society does not value enough to pay well, at great personal risk. I am grateful that people such as Mr. Johns do this kind of work--living in my safe, sane, protected bubble, it is easy to forget just how many haters there are in the world, and how dangerous they are. I sincerely hope that his family finds some solace and consolation for their loss in the knowledge of his bravery and heroism in the lives he certainly saved today.

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