Roy Exum: God Bless The Quiet Ones

Monday, September 4, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The odds are overwhelming that you were not watching CNN at 1:15 a.m. Friday. The news network was delivering minute-by-minute coverage from hurricane-ravaged Houston and, had you been watching, you would have witnessed Anderson Cooper barely contain a smile as he said, “I think we’ve found Shannon …”

Earlier in the day a family had been rescued from the savage flooding by a man in a boat who had no official capacity, who was using his own gas, who kept going out in the darkness time and time again as he searched for anyone needing his help. “I’m Shannon … let me take you to safety.”

The family, once those rescued were dry and warm and in a shelter, had asked a CNN news crew if they could help them locate “a needle in a hay stack” in the middle of the biggest natural disaster the United States has ever known. Suddenly they were overwrought with the goal of locating their newest knight. How could they ever thank him for saving their lives?

Well, word spread from one CNN team to the next and they even sent out texts to other media outlets. The CNN editors were desperate for a “feel-good story” in the midst of havoc and despair. Where was a beacon of hope in a tough place for it to shine? So in the wee hours of Friday morning, the TV lights hit the fatigued and tired face of “A Quiet One” and he said to the cameras, “Yessir, I’m Shannon Townsend.”

Shannon grew up in LaFayette, Ga., and since he got married and moved to Houston, he and his wife have had two children. He is still remembered as a guy who “would do just about anything for anybody.” You got that right.

Yep, there he was, pained at being singled out because the way he’d been raised meant do what you could when the neighbor’s oxen is in the ditch and talk about it later. As word reached me of this unsung hero, an Internet contact sent me a story on Saturday morning about “The Quiet Ones,” people exactly like Shannon Townsend

As we pause to celebrate Labor Day, and the work ethic that created and built The Land of the Free, perhaps the greatest labor is reserved by Americans for our fellow man. It is only fitting that I stand straight on this day and salute our real heroes - The Quiet Ones.

* * *


Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Houston. Almost all of them driven by men. They're using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.

Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-used gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there's a preponderance of camo. Most are probably gun owners, and most probably voted for Trump.  These are the people the Left loves to hate, the ones Maddow mocks. The ones Maher and Olbermann just ‘know’ they're so much better than.

These are The Quiet Ones. They don't wear masks and tear down statues. They don't, as a rule, march and demonstrate. And most have probably never been in a Whole Foods.  But they'll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They'll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.

When disaster strikes, it's what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they'll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they've never met before, and talk about fishing, or ten-point bucks, or the benefits of hollow-point ammo, or their F-150. 

And the next time they hear someone talk about "the patriarchy", or "male privilege", they'll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.  In the meantime, they'll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work's done. 

They're unlikely to be reimbursed. There won't be medals. They won't care. They're heroes.

It is what American heroes do.

-- Author unknown.

* * *

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “We think we have found ‘Shannon’ …”

Wet, cold, hungry and exhausted: “Yessir … I’m Shannon Townsend …”

Undisputed truth: “You can fake that you care. You cannot fake showing up.”

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