In Memoriam: John Solomon

The obituaries keep coming in. John Solomon has died. After valiantly battling leukemia, he succumbed on Monday, November 1, 2010. He will be missed.

I met John online. He started a blog called In Case of Emergency, Read Blog to help with research for a book he was doing on personal preparedness. His and my blog had the same title; both being focused, to some extent, on preparedness issues, it was inevitable that we’d meet.

I grew to love his posts. I said so frequently.

I grew to admire his zeal. I strive to replicate it, though worry that no one can.

I never met John. He never knew my real name. I worry that cheapened our relationship. Who wants to be friends with a character from an old Clash song?

If I know anything about John Solomon, it was that he loved his family and he loved his work. In my mind, the indelible image of John is a fuzzy profile picture of him in his CERT gear, arm around his daughter.

I’m crying for a man I never knew, and who never knew me.

But I know his passion and I feel the same. I envy, “his willingness to offer candid assessments of where we stood as a country as far as preparedness, and … his honest feedback about … FEMA,” as no less than FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in an official statement on Tuesday.

I know the world is poorer for having lost John, but is the world poorer for not knowing Jim Garrow? I’m not vain enough to think that I’ve had the same impact as John did, but I am pragmatic enough to know that my old blog would never change the world.

I’m not saying what I’m going to say in some misguided attempt to replace John. I could never do that, and truthfully, I have no desire to do that. I hate to tie the two statements together, but the first has lead me to the second.

I said before that I envied John’s passion. More specifically, I envy John’s passions. His dual passions, preparedness and family. His ability to do both, be both. I want that.

My kids can’t be proud of the work that I’ve done. My kids can’t be proud of someone who is cowed because someone someday might disagree with something he’s written.

I’m proud of the content of that blog. I stand by it all. All.

My kids should know what their Dad does, because I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know how much time I’ve got (not that I’m planning to go anywhere). Life is too short.

I have blogged under the pseudonym Jimmy Jazz. I wrote for more than three years on the first and only regularly updated public health preparedness blog, In Case of Emergency, Break Glass. Because of my work there I met people that I had no reasonable expectation of knowing. I’ve met Jerome Hauer, Peter Sandman, Gerald Baron, and a host of amazing people from states and cities and counties across the country. I met John Solomon. And not one of them knew who I really was. Life is too short.

That said, I’m closing that blog.

I needed a fresh start. I needed a new direction. Hopefully this will be that direction, that new start.

Thank you to all of my old readers and my new readers for everything you’ve done with me. Thank you, John, for helping me to be a better man.

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3 thoughts on “In Memoriam: John Solomon

  1. Hi Jim–I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done with your blog. The information you’ve posted has been valuable to me in my work as a public health emergency planner in Ontario. But the most valuable part of what you do is to maintain and share your enthusiasm and passion. I’ve been in this role in various capacities for 12 years and the hardest thing I find to keep going is my enthusiasm–particularly in the face of senior management apathy or lack of vision. Cynicism is the enemy here, I think–and thanks for beating it back. Best of luck with your new blog! I’m sure it will be a hit.Tracey

  2. Thanks so much for your note, Tracey. Anything I can do to help. =)Enjoy, and please don’t hesitate to reach out!

  3. John Solomon had an unusual talent for talking to regular people about what they normally do not want to hear about…preparing for emergencies that are as old as time, as is our tendency to pretend the next one is not just around the corner. I’ve read your blog postings and you have the same gift, if expressed in your way. Keep working hard, keep sharing the information even when it seems no one is listening, and serendipity takes care of the rest. Can there be anything more rewarding than helping to prevent injury, death, and property damage so people can have a better life? I don’t know of it.John Solomon, from what I knew in my exchanges with him, was one of those men whose work is so great and who’s early death so tragic, there are not mountains big enough to honor him. May New Yorkers honor his work by implementing even one-tenth of what he tried to teach them.I was a child once at 6826 N. 15th street. I still have many family in and around Philadelphia. From having read your old and new blog, I sleep better at night knowing you are there.

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