Charles Ramsey is my hero. It’s not just because he and other brave neighbors freed three kidnapped women and a little girl who lived in the hellacious prison of Ariel Castro’s Cleveland home.
Though that alone would cover it.
It’s because I see more truth and character in him than in many of the privileged and powerful.
I grew up in Euclid, a mostly working class white neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. Euclid borders Richmond Heights, where Ramsey lived, though he attended Brush High School. Being the first one in my family to get a college education, my journalism degree paved the way for me to become a Cleveland reporter and radio talk show host for the former AM-1300 WERE. For personal reasons, I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and found myself a fish out of Lake Erie among the Potomac River’s privileged and powerful.
A class act, Ramsey is far richer than many of the powerful and privileged. Ramsey has his integrity. He is bold, candid and a breath of fresh air. His language may offend the sensitive, but he speaks truth.
He does not offend me. I would rather hear his slang than live where people walk on eggshells for fear of speaking truth. Our government is reluctant to call the Boston bombing or the shooting at Fort Hood acts of Jihadist terrorism, but you cannot fool Cleveland. Clevelanders unapologetically call something what it really is. The logic is clear: How can you address a problem without honesty?
In rescuing Castro’s victims, Ramsey said he only did what anyone would do. In this, he assumes that most of us value and exhibit true character. But unlike heroes like Ramsey, too many of us are just too chicken to get our hands dirty. But heroes will and do. They have the innate qualities to overcome the idol of self-preservation that ignores the suffering often close to us.
And for his heroic act he will not accept reward money. A dishwasher for a downtown restaurant who lives in a west side working class neighborhood, no doubt he could use the extra bread. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, he said the only thing before for the rescue that kept him up at night was not having enough money. Now he can’t sleep because he feels bad that the victims were next door and he did not even know it.
Given that Cleveland has had a depressed economy with double-digit unemployment for years, he is grateful he even has a job.
And while I suspect his life has not been an easy one, he recognizes that it does not compare to the hell these women have suffered.
A class act, Ramsey is far richer
than many of the powerful and privileged.
While to some, he lacks some social graces, Ramsey has more class than some of the educated reporters and commentators who have covered this story.
During an interview with Ramsey, George Stephanopoulos mentioned he attended Orange high school. What Ramsey full well knew and understood is that George’s alma mater was a high school of the privileged. Ramsey could have pointed out that his Cleveland is very different than George’s. He had the class to resist the “I can’t relate,” kind of comments. Instead, he joked about the high schools being rivals, but that’s all right.
My suspicion is the only things these two have in common are a shared passion for the Indians, Browns and Cavs.
Ramsey certainly has more class than the sports commentators I heard last week on FM-WJKF 106.7. They joked that everyone shown from Ramsey’s neighborhood were missing at least one tooth. Even though they acknowledged Ramsey’s heroism, such negative comments were untrue and in bad taste.
When the media revealed that Ramsey had a criminal history of domestic violence, Ramsey did not freak. Not missing a beat, he acknowledged his past and pointed out ways he is trying to improve his life.
While the media outlet that revealed Ramsey’s past apologized, the journalist in me wonders why. Had the media not reported it, would they have been accused of not telling Ramsey’s whole story? How would Ramsey’s ex-wife have felt?
I am further inspired because he has the guts to face himself. From the revelation, we learned more about the man and witnessed his personal courage. Those who squarely face their issues and make steps to improve are heroes.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Ramsey told the Washington Post over the weekend he was actually suspended from work last week after rounds of ammo from an AK-47 fell out of his pocket when he leaned over.
Now you can find a sandwich named after him at Hodges restaurant.
Blogs are supposed to be short. Ramsey deserves more words than I offer here. His honesty, courage, humility, and selflessness are just some reasons why Charles Ramsey is my hero. If you agree, please share this blog.
And consider buying a “Charles Ramsey Cleveland Hero” t-shirt. The proceeds are for the victims.