Lieutenant John Cagno is a
He didn't know that he was burned
"I was bandaged everywhere, and the pain was unbearable," he says. "I prayed to God every night to take me to Him. I wasn't even sure if I still had all my
Then one night there was a show on TV about a woman gymnast who had one arm amputated below the
"I looked at her and I realized that she made a tremendous handicap into nothing more than an inconvenience," he says. "So I mirrored her actions. I decided to look at my injuries as a little inconvenience. She inspired me and I suddenly knew that no matter what my outcome, I'd be okay. It gave me the strength I needed to keep fighting.
"I was in the hospital for five months," he says. "I came home and couldn't do anything for
There is no failure for the man who realizes his power, who never
knowswhen he is beaten; there is no failure for the determined endeavor; the unconquerable will. There is no failure for the man who gets up every time he falls, who rebounds like a rubber ball, who persists when everyone else gives up, who pushes on when everyone else turns back.
—Orison Swett Marden,
founder of Success Magazine
Unfortunately, John Cagno's trials were not yet over, and he would find himself
"Of course, I was given pain
"Just because I'm a firefighter, people think I have a lot of courage. But when I'm fighting a fire, when I face danger in a professional situation, I have tools in place to help me deal with it. When I was faced with drug dependency, I didn't have those tools in place to help give me courage. I had to reach deep inside and confront my demons. I had to face my obstacles and understand my options. I had to confront this situation head on.
John Cagno reached deep inside and admitted his problem. "I could run into a burning building every day of the week," he says. "And I did. But when it came to identifying, to stopping my denial, and then to
He found a counselor in whom he could confide. The counselor advised him to enter a treatment center.
"When I was injured the first time, the fire chief came in and told me, 'This won't make sense to you now, but things happen for a reason. Something's going to come out of this because you didn't die. You have a purpose, and eventually you'll know what that purpose is.'"
And though he didn't know it at the time, he now says that the purpose was so that he could use his experiences in a positive way, and so he could give hope, strength, and understanding to others. And he has much greater empathy for people who are struggling to find the courage they need to
"I'll put it this way," he says. "If there were two doors and somebody said to me, 'Behind door number one is a raging fire. We don't know how bad it is, we don't know if the floor is safe, and we don't know if the ceiling is going to come down and behind door number two is confronting drug dependency.' I'd pick the fire every time."
"I've done a lot of things in my career that other people have judged courageous. I've saved people who were in
Let it never be forgotten that glamour is not greatness; applause is not fame; prominence is not eminence. The man of the
houris not apt to be the man of the ages. A stone may sparkle, but that does not make it a diamond; people may have money, but that does not make them a success. It is what the unimportant people do that really counts and determines the course of history. The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers are more effective than hurricanes, but they get no publicity. The world would soon die but for the fidelity, loyalty and consecration of those whose namesare unhonored and unsung.
—James R. Sizoo,