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The Truth About Philadelphia

Israel Raynor
Police Lieutenant, North Philadelphia and East Mount Airy


Question #10: In your life, who are the heroes? Do you know any heroes? What is a hero? In what says have you ever been a hero?

Glenn: I wanted to know, you know especially in your, your field, I wanted to know, who, I'm sure there are many heroes. Who have been the heroes in your life? How do you define a hero, and is, have there been times in your life when you, you've been a hero?

Israel: Oh, I, uh, I think the heroes to me are people who make a difference in the lives of others. And there have been a number of heroes for me, and some I can identify, some I can't. The teacher who taught me the importance of understanding what you read. Now, I can't remember his name or her name but I do remember the lesson. And I didn't think it was important at the time, but it was the single most important factor, uh, to me that changed my life. And that was, uh, along with my uncle taking me on the ride to see a different perspective, you know, of life. Reading also was, I have to put that, uh, as part of that, uh, that factor also.

Glenn: Did you have, like one, one lesson, or one moment that was an epiphany, or is it...?

Israel: It was, uh, one moment. Uh, and that's why I said, I can't remember his name or her name, but I remember, you know, when the bell goes off. Somebody tells you something, and they've been telling, people have been telling me all along, and all along, then one day, a bell goes off. And, I remember a teacher says, "look, if you, you gotta read to understand. Read for understanding. You don't just read to work, uh, we used to read the words for reading." You know, she said, "read this, or read this," she said, uh, "read, you know, so and so chapters and then do it." I said, "well, I read 'em." And she said, "well, how come you got the stuff wrong?" "I didn't know how to do it." She said, "You said you read it." "Yeah, but, uh, well, that's still don't know." She said, "well, the sentence tells you how to do what you were supposed to do." And, then she sat me down and explained to me about reading for understanding. That when you read something, you know, it will teach you things. There's things to be learned through reading. And it was interest and their direction there were other ways to have done what we had done. We, we did not go according to our trainingbut I, I, I had a good time. Uh, you know. But, it got me into reading for understanding.

You know, and, uh, you know, uh, growing up in the projects, you know, the only answers you got in life would be from friends who knew, knew less than you did. Well, it turned out that books, you know, they kinda contain the recipes and the directions that, you know, you could get to, get the answers in life. You know, you, you could, when you're in the projects, you're dealing with your friends and your peers, and they have rumors, and witch doctor, voodoo, and you know, they said, "oh, yeah, you got the hiccups? Uh, stick a straw in your ear. That'll, uh, make it go away." You know, something grandma told 'em that. And you'd believe it, totally, you know. But, then, somebody says, "oh, you know, you drink some water or whatever, you know, it'll go away on its own, whatever, you know." But, you, you'll find the truth out from somewhere else, you know. But, your friends, could keep you, you'd be 35 years old, sticking a broom straw in your head. You know? (LAUGHING) That's what the, uh, you know, that was one of your old wives' tales. You know, little things like that.

And, uh, so I think books and my uncle's trips, uh, freed me from that. And, uh, that's when I started to, uh, see that my world, the world around me was a lot bigger than the projects that I grew up in.

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