Anybody remember that the Summer Olympic Games were held in Atlanta in 1996? It was pretty exciting to have the games held here. The city was in preparation for years and it was in great hopes that all would go smoothly. This did not happen because there was a horrific bombing. On July 27, 1996 in Centennial Olympic Park, Richard Jewell, a security guard, noticed a bag underneath a park bench and was able to alert authorities and get many people moved away. However, the bag contained a pipe bomb which exploded and two people died and 111 were injured. Now, at first Richard Jewell was hailed as a hero, but this only lasted a few short days and then, it was reported that he was being treated as a suspect. The news coverage was relentless, making much of the fact that he was an earnest, quiet young man who lived modestly with his mother. I found a video of him talking of what he went through and you may see it here...
I have read other bloggers who have written very movingly about Postman's Park in London which honors Unsung Heroes, people who sacrificed themselves in order to save others. I could not help but think of Richard Jewell when I read about this park.
He was investigated by the FBI and although he was completely cleared of anything related to the bombing , all of this media attention and speculation was certainly a strain upon him and his health suffered terribly. He died in August of 2007 at the age of 44.
Above is his obituary from The New York Times in which he is hailed as a hero. And yet he was and still is a true unsung hero. I know because I did meet him and I witnessed this. His own lawyer said that many times people would come up to him and ask, "Come on, didn't he really have something to do with the bombing". I am grateful that I got to shake his hand and to say "sorry" for all that he had gone through.