Remembering Heroes on Sept. 11: The Tough People That Do

Sep 10, 2018 at 08:00 am by Paulette Jackson

Texas Rangers by Kevin Stockton

He pours it black every morning
then thumbs through the classifieds
It seems there ain't no catchin' a break
Since the job market took a dive
The rough and tumble can knock you to the ground
And it's gettin' up and holdin' on that really counts

Some people cut and run
the first sight of trouble
and they're long gone
It ain't easy to stand in the storm
when it starts to brew
Tough People Do

There's a daughter who cares
for her father every day
A father with a kid
who's too sick to play
A kid on the front line
starring his enemy in the face
Tell me why he stays…

~Tough People Do
by Shay Watson and company

Yes. Tough People do. The lyrics above, offer us insight to the description of the meaning of tough people and their relationship to life. From what we read in the lyrics, we might understand tough people to be:

  • Persons of commitment; to themselves, their values and those they care about.
  • Protective and responsible to those in their care.
  • Individuals with a vision toward stability, to the degree that it can be maintained.

Other synonyms might include; strong, resilient, durable, and able to endure difficulty. In contrast, we might also conclude, what tough people are not; violent, aggressive, forceful, hostile or attacking.

In clarifying terms, I hope the result will be for readers have a better lens through which to understand the events described in the following three stories – stories which changed courses of history – by those considered tough people.

The Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers. They were a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction based in Austin, Texas.

Beginning in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin, the Texas Rangers offered protection to the settlers in Texas from native tribes and bandits as well as established law and order in the isolated parts of the state.

And they are still in existence today.

Known to be the oldest state-level law enforcement agency, they have served the Lone Star state for over 100 years. From crime investigation to political corruption, they have acted as riot police, tracked down fugitives and functioned as a paramilitary force in the service of the Republic of Texas.

The Texas Rangers initially formed as a volunteer band of 10 men. Later, they were formally established as "rangers" and put on the state payroll for $15 a month. Their primary role centered on surveillance of the countryside and dutifully protecting the 600 to 700 settlers in the state of Texas. By 1835, there were more than 300 Texas Rangers.

Just who were these tough men that the state of Texas came to depend on so greatly for law and order?

One of the names given to the well-known group of Rangers was "frontier fighters." These men, including John Coffee "Jack" Hayes, Benjamin McCulloch, "Bigfoot" Wallace and Samuel Hamilton Walker played a large role in defending the Republic against Invasion from Mexico and native attacks.

"Jack" Hayes was a southern boy from Wilson County, Tennessee, whose job as a surveyor brought him to Texas. His experience in the Mexican skirmish earned him the appointment as captain of the Rangers in 1840, at the ripe old age of 23.

Even though he was young, and the tribes described him as Bravo too much, he was known for his charismatic personality, which was valuable to his men. They considered him a good disciplinarian, who provided unity and a sense of comradery to the Rangers.

He also invented the five-shot Colt Revolver and taught his men how to aim, fire and reload their weapon from horseback. Prior to this technique, firing and reloading a weapon only took place after dismounting, and with cumbersome weaponry.

Ben McCulloch, a most noted Texas hero and Ranger was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee. One of 12 children, he was well-educated through extensive reading.

At the age of 24, he and his friend, Davy Crockett, fought together with Gen. Sam Houston at the famous San Jacinto battle of the Texas Revolution, against Santa Anna's forces. In that battle, more than 1,000 Mexican soldiers lost their lives. Only nine Texans were lost.

Samuel Hamilton Walker was born in Maryland and grew up a carpenter's apprentice. He participated in the Creek War, or Creek Alabama Uprising, in 1836, but having seen no combat, he joined Hayes's Texas Rangers in 1844, at the age of 27. He became famous in the battle of Walker's Creek, against the Comanches Tribe using the new Colt Revolvers.

In 1846, he formed his own company and served with Gen. Zachary Taylor. His was the only Texas unit at the battle of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, the first major battle of the Mexican American War. Walker was noted on numerous occasions for his exemplary duty as a scout and courier.

"Bigfoot" Wallace was born in Virginia. At the age of 22, he was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed 240 lbs. His feet measured 11 3/4 inches. A Scotsman and descendant of William Wallace, it is said he went to Texas to avenge the deaths of a brother and a cousin shot down in the Texas Goliad Massacre, to "take pay" from the enemy.

Serving with his own company of Texas Rangers in the 1850s, he was known as one of the most colorful Rangers. Stories of surviving an 800-mile prison march, going without water for six days and then drinking an entire gallon at once, to eating 27 eggs at one time and then going into town to eat a full breakfast, were a few of the legendary tales contributing to his fame.

As we read about these heroic men, making history and shaping the future of the country they loved so much, we see the passion that motivated them. From a socio-economic perspective as well as a cultural one, they were all pretty much within the average range for the times.

Personality wise, from what I read, such daring and brave hearts learned to survive by "giving it all you got." While these operating styles are somewhat less observed in the 21st century, it is still easy to get chills and have the hair stand up on our arms in response to the swelling of pride that we feel toward these men. Their raw, wild valor which drove them, made them notorious freedom fighters, defenders, and protectors of the citizens of the Texas Republic.

Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond Doss. He was born February 7, 1919, in Lynchburg, Virginia, the second child to William and Bertha Doss. William was a carpenter and Bertha was a homemaker and shoe factory worker.

Growing up with a mother whose religious faith was grounded in the Seventh Day Adventist tradition, Desmond accepted for himself, the teachings of the denomination. Dutifully honoring its tenets, he was faithful to Sabbath-keeping, nonviolence and a vegetarian lifestyle.

Unfortunately, it was faithfulness to his beliefs, which was called into question when he signed up for military service on April 1, 1942, just months after World War II broke out. Yet, a little while later, the same faithfulness to his beliefs, also brought him honor and recognition.

Desmond received his training with the 77th Infantry Division, in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. His commitment to his religious beliefs of non-violence, including not killing anyone and not carrying a weapon, allowed him to serve in the military as a medic, a duty he carried out heroically as a member of 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

On April 29, 1945, the 1st Battalion arrived in Okinawa, Japan prepared for combat. Their job was an assault on a 400-foot cliff, known as Hacksaw Ridge, with a mission to defeat the Japanese occupation of the ridge. After scaling the 400-foot cliff to the top of the ridge, the 1st Battalion was met with an onslaught of overwhelming odds; of Japanese infantry, heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire, in a intense battle that would last 30 days.

In the first two days, there were approximately 75 casualties, and the battalion was driven back. Refusing to seek cover, PFC Doss, a medic, remained in the area with the men who were wounded. Unwilling to leave them on the battlefield, he personally carried them one-by-one to the edge of the cliff, where he then lowered them down on a rope, into hands that could get them to safety.

Again on May 2, Private Doss risked his life crossing 200 yards on the same ridge in order to treat four men who had been hit by grenades near a cave where hundreds of under-cover enemy soldiers were protecting weaponry. Doss dressed the injured men's wounds, and then made four separate trips, while under fire, to evacuate the men to safety.

Three days later, on the 5th of May, he braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. After applying bandages, he moved the officer to protection to administer plasma. Later that day, he crawled to a wounded soldier who had fallen near the enemy position. After giving him aid, Doss carried him a hundred yards to safety, while being under fire.

On May 21, Doss was seriously injured from a grenade explosion.

Not wanting to call another aid from cover, he cared for his own wounds, and waited five hours before a stretcher could reach him to carry him to safety. Finally being rescued and placed on a stretcher, Doss and his carriers were caught in an attack.

But seeing a more critically injured soldier nearby, Doss crawled off the stretcher and directed the bearers to attend to the other man. While waiting for the stretcher to return, Doss was struck again, this time in the arm. Binding a rifle stock to his injured arm as a splint, he then crawled 300 yards to the aid station. Later that day he was evacuated aboard the USS Mercy.

In the Battle of Okinawa, Private First Class Desmond Doss, nicknamed, Preacher, personally saved the lives of 50 to 100 wounded infantrymen, atop Hacksaw Ridge.

For his actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Truman, on Oct. 12, 1945. In recognition of his service with his platoon while in Guam, Desmond Doss was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for valor in aiding wounded soldiers under fire. He also received the Purple Heart.

September 11

September 11, 2001. Today, 17 years after the tragedy of 9/11, we are remembering heroes from a different battle. On Sept. 11, 2001, our still young country was again invaded by foreign attack.

Early on that Tuesday morning, 19 terrorist hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. Two of the airliners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone aboard and many others in the buildings, a total of 2,996 lives including the 19 hijackers.

Our country was stunned.

Many watched live television coverage seeing in horror, the airplanes crash into the towers like something out of Harrison Ford movie. All over the country, families began to panic as they learned of loved ones being trapped on the flights.

With cell-phone technology, the terror increased as phone calls were desperately made to wives, mothers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, husbands and fathers that the planes had been hijacked, passengers had been killed and plans for more death were put into motion.

Smoke filled skies, news of crashes, injury, death and mass destruction rejected all the previously entertainment filled air waves to cable channels and radio stations. In just a few minutes, America was under attack, panic ensued, and everyone and everything went into protective and survival mode.

But within hours, news of heroes was coming across the wires. Americans were boldly showing their heroic roots in the face of death, still protecting, defending and keeping free the land where their families and countrymen lived.

Forty-five passengers on Flight 93 were being hijacked into what was thought a national landmark. Cell phone calls relayed terrorist's aggression and passenger's fear of facing death. In spite of fear and savage terrorism, Thomas Burnett of California, told his wife, "I know we are going to die–there's three of us who are going to do something about it."

And do something they did.

Investigations have indicated that it is somewhat apparent that the passengers on the plane entered into a struggle. Shortly after Thomas Burnett spoke with his wife the airplane crashed. But the plane crashed near a strip mine in Pennsylvania.

Apparently, it too was aimed at an American landmark, but was thrown way off course because of the bravery of the American passengers. Thomas Burnett's last words to his wife were, "I love you, honey."

His life ended as a hero, to the love of his life and his country. His loss will not be forgotten. His bravery will be memorialized in the history of the United States.

In the wake of the disaster, other heroes arose that aided the recovery and survival in the aftermath of the attack. Many wore uniforms; of firemen, policeman, healthcare personnel, humanitarian aids, clergy of all faiths, volunteers of Red Cross, canine teams, neighbors and friends.

The lifesaving efforts to leave no destroyed place uncovered in search for missing people, those that had been lost to death and those that survived, restored hope to every American that we were not alone in our pain. And we have tried to say thank you many times, however, it remains inadequate.

We have all changed since that day.

We have recovered in many ways and will always be recovering in others. We have had trust eroded, safety threatened and found the need to secure defenses and increase protective measures, adding a little more of tension to our days. However, we are so thankful for the heroes that showed up to defend and protect. We could not do without you.

Heroes do come in all shapes and sizes and show up at different points in time. We have looked here at specific events in history and the people who showed sacrificial behavior. And we do consider all of these heroic individuals, tough people. They don't cut and run when the going gets tough. They stand in the storm and make us proud.

There are other heroes in our lives. Although perhaps not nationally celebrated, they may be celebrated in just as a significant way by being the hero in our own, somewhat smaller world. Perhaps it is the husband and wife that work long hours to provide in an ever-changing economy, the son and daughter that take time out of their busy schedule to pitch in and be lovingly supportive.

Perhaps it is the neighbor who lends a listening ear, fixes our computer or our toilet, the friend that is there without judgment, or someone who calls to check on us when they had no idea how much we needed it. These are the people we are all in community with. They are the heroes in our lives. We couldn't do without them either. They reach out to say, "I care" letting us know that we are in this together. And they, like all of us, are trying to make it. And we will. Because, tough people do.

Giving thanks today for our heroes, and for their lives that make a difference in ours; for our heroes of the past, for our heroes of the present, and for the ones; that are my heroes, your heroes, our heroes, every single day.

Facet for life: May we remember and honor the heroes who are a part of history past. May we celebrate and love the ones who are a part of our present, for they are history in the making. ~Paulette Jackson

Thank you to Kevin Stockton, artist of the Texas Ranger art piece above.
Thank you to, Shay Watson, for his and his partner's music.

Paulette Jackson LPC/MHSP


Nice article, I like the lyrics at the beginning.
Thank you!
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