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Recently in Buffalo, two events showed us how misplaced our priorities can be.

Dominik Hasek played great hockey in the Olympics and won a gold medal. He was instantly labeled a hero, and many in Buffalo cheered him on. He was given a hero's welcome at the airport, where fans had beenencouraged to greet him.

There was even a proclamation declaring a day of honor in Erie County for Buffalo's Olympic heroes.

Just a few days later, Buffalo Police Officer Robert McLellan died in the line of duty. As a community, we were all saddened by this tragic loss and even paused to think of how grateful we are to him and his co-workers for the difficult job they do.

Officer McLellan was a real hero. Dominik Hasek, although a very talented athlete, is not. There is something wrong when we honor and think of real heroes -- firefighters and police officers -- only when they are injured or killed.

When is the last time Erie County set aside a day to honor a living police officer or firefighter?

This is not a criticism of any athlete. I have attended numerous Sabres and Bills rallies and have lost my voice cheering for our hockey and football stars.

Rather, this is a criticism of a society that fails to recognize and honor our real heroes, such as Officers Robert McLellan and Charles "Skip" McDougald and Firefighters Michael Seguin and Donald Herbert.

We should all say thanks to the men and women in our police stations and firehouses -- they are the real heroes.

Cynthia J. Selden Buffalo

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