Eddie the Hero

Everyday Hero


If you watch the news closely or read the papers, you know that a house here in our neighborhood was damaged by an explosion at approximately 8:00 on Saturday the 8th of September.  The structure that was left standing, consequently burned (almost) to the ground.  A man and his mother were the occupants in the house, and though there were some injuries, they did survive. 

This event is noteworthy, especially by ten o’clock news standards, but I bring it up as a lead in to discuss someone who is connected to this event - someone you should know. 

You see, shortly after the explosion rocked the neighborhood, a number of neighbors came out to see what had happened; it was so loud that many of them thought that the explosion had to be on their property or from just outside their front door.  When it had become clear what had happened, a handful of neighbors from the crowd that had gathered moved towards the house where the sound had come from – among that group was Johnston’s own Eddie Valle.

Eddie has been working at Johnston School for the past 14 years as one of the school’s night custodians.  If you’ve ever come back to get homework after school, chances are, he’s opened up the classroom for you.  If you’ve ever come to any of the after school PTO events like Sock Hop or Ice Cream Social, you’ve probably seen him setting up chairs or taking care of a mess on the floor.  If you’ve ever marveled at the fact that 50-year-old Johnston is in such good shape, he’s one of the guys to thank.  He is someone that goes above and beyond in his job for the benefit of kids and he’s always got time to chat or notice that a student is wearing a special outfit or if someone might need a quick pick-me-up.  He thinks about others first - it’s no wonder that he makes headlines when he’s not at school. 

But Eddie will tell you over and over that he’s not a hero and that there were a number of other good Samaritans who helped out on the night of the 8th.  Yet, the fact of the matter is, Eddie Valle carried the bedridden mother out of the house as it smoldered from the force of the blast. 

Actually, a closer account of the situation would describe the house as ready to collapse with visible fires burning in the basement – fires that would engulf the entire house just minutes after he carried the woman to safety.  That description was confirmed by fire officials on the scene and recounted by many of the eyewitnesses.  If you dig deep enough, you can get Eddie to describe in detail, the surreal interior of the house – but he’ll tell you a dozen times while you’re talking to him that he’s not a hero and that other neighbors need to get credit as well.  We certainly salute all of the individuals who helped out and applaud them for their efforts, but Eddie, this is your moment and we give you a very special “wildcat salute.”  You are a great man and a wonderful role model for our kids.

I asked Mr. Valle what advice he would have for our Johnston students in regards to this type of situation and he wanted me to tell the kids that it wasn’t a wise choice to go into a burning house and he doesn’t want kids imitating his actions.  I concur, the events that make a man or woman a hero are usually full of danger so we don’t want students dashing into houses to save lives, but we do want them to recognize that Mr. Valle has been a hero all along, and his recent heroic efforts on the 8th of September, just give us reason to take a moment and talk about a man who goes above and beyond every day because it makes a difference for kids. 

So we give a big thank-you to Mr. Valle; he makes our school a better place for kids . . . oh . . . and he also saves lives.