Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lance Orton, The Times Square Hero

We can probably all agree that it’s the people you meet along the way that make life – and vacations – really interesting. My daughters and I vacationed in New York City this summer, and while we met some very memorable characters, the highlight of our trip was meeting Lance Orton, the Vietnam veteran-turned-hero who stopped the Times Square bombing by alerting police to suspicious smoke coming out of an SUV that was parked alongside his T-shirt stand. (Watch the video.)

We didn’t plan on meeting Lance. But like Lance, who was at the right place at the right time when a Muslim terrorist tried to blow up Times Square with a failed bomb attempt, we happened to stumble on his T-shirt stand. We actually walked past it, and then my teenager said, “You know, I’d really like to get an ‘I Love NY” T-shirt. Can we go back, Mom?”

“Oh, all right.” Just what I wanted to do – spend MORE money in New York City!

So we’re fishing through these T-shirts, and it dawned on me that we were close to where this incident happened a few weeks ago, if I remembered the news clips correctly. So I asked the T-shirt guy, “Hey, do you know the man who saved Times Square from that bomb?”

And he said, “I am that man.”

Well, this was unexpected! So of course I got all starry-eyed, or pretended to, because I think it was expected of me, and I spoke with an excited shrill, “Girls! This is the Time Square Hero! If it weren’t for him, we’d be standing in what used to be Times Square!”

Then I made a grave error, something Lance may never forgive me for. I asked, “What’s your name?”

He gave me a look like, “How could you NOT know my name? I am the talk of the town! No, of the world! They’re naming airports after me, for God’s sake.”

I apologized. I mean, really, what rock have I been hiding under, right? Even so, he still agreed to pose for a picture with my daughters. Grudgingly, at first, because he said he was tired of all the media attention. I assured him that I was just a single mom traveling with her daughters, and we would be honored to have a picture taken with him.

Of course, I left out the fact that I was a blogger. I just didn’t want to get old Lance all riled up again. He’d been through a lot, already.

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