The red line running down the back of Bill Spencer's skull looks like something out of a surgeon's textbook. Spencer stopped in the newsroom the other day, and not until we saw his wounded head that had been stitched back together were we able to size up the extent of what happened to him.
If you don't know Spencer, he's the guy who stepped in between an arguing couple at a downtown bus stop last week only to be slashed nine times with a knife in the process. He's lucky to be alive, but he managed to save a pregnant young woman and her unborn child from more serious harm than she had already experienced at the hands of her attacker.
Details of the incident have been all over the newspapers. Thankfully Spencer is OK and able to return to work and be home with his family. His attacker is in jail. The pregnant woman escaped with only a single knife injury thanks to Spencer who helped her into his truck just before being slashed by his attacker.
In a time when this nation is hungry for genuine heroes, we should thank Bill Spencer for being just the kind of person that fits the definition.
Forget the sports figures who roll out of the stadiums in their SUVs without a look toward their waving fans. Don't even consider the movie star whose continual drug habits are reported every day as if we should care. Give us a few more people like Bill Spencer.
Sometimes I think we forget that each and every day, police officers across our fair valley put themselves in the line of fire. For every story like the one involving Bill Spencer, there are dozens more where police step into hostile domestic situations. And if you ask them about it, they often say they are just doing their jobs.
I've met plenty of heroes on this job and many of them wear uniforms. There have been police officers, firefighters, soldiers, water meter readers, postal workers and even paper carriers who have gone out of their way to help someone while "just doing my job."
We've reported on the mailman or paper carrier who notices mail or papers building up at a home only to find an elderly person inside in distress. Or the guy on his way to work in the predawn hours who discovers a house on fire and alerts the residents inside.
Heroes come in all sizes, ages and economic statuses: from the millionaire who gives big bucks to his local alma mater to the fixed income widow who drops $5 in the poor box in church on Sunday - they both make a difference.
Maybe 2012 will be the year our country will have more heroes than not. Perhaps Bill Spencer's act of incredible generosity and bravery could be the stepping off point for all of us. We don't have to fight off a knife-wielding attacker, but we could be the person who stops and calls 911 instead of just driving by. Be a hero.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.