What is a hero? (I’m using the term to mean men and women.) In movies or books, heroes are larger than life characters. Heroes rise to the challenge. They rescue those in distress. They save the day. In school, we’re taught about great people who did wondrous things. They explored continents, fought for freedom, founded nations.
In the aftermath and recent anniversary of 9/11, we heard a lot about heroes. Everyday people who helped others with no regard for their own safety. More recently, we heard about those who rushed to help people trapped under a collapsed stage at the Indiana State Fair. The consistent refrain when the media called these people heroes was “I was just doing my job” or “It was the right thing to do”.
Who are the everyday heroes? Police and fire rescue seem the most obvious. Their job is to serve and protect. They put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniforms. Thank goodness, they do. We’ve seen evidence of what happens without them in the chaos of the Middle East. Where individuals live in constant fear and/or have to arm themselves for protection.
What about the unsung heroes? The teachers who put up with lack of respect and often hazardous conditions yet have a tremendous influence on our children. Nurses who start out wanting to care for people and get bogged down in paperwork and given too many patients to oversee. The dad going to work each day, often giving up his own dreams to provide for his family. The mom who would rather stay home and raise her children but must leave them with others in order to provide. Everyday people just doing their jobs.
Skeptics will point out there are corrupt cops, bad teachers, lazy nurses. Sure. They are in the minority yet get the majority of the attention. Still, heroes are real people. They aren’t perfect. Even the founders of our country—supposedly, the heroes of our nation—had faults. In books, the flawed hero is often the most interesting.
Two of my heroes are teachers I had in high school. I wish I’d told those women how much they influenced my life before they died. In my bio, I write that I married my own hero. Maybe that sounds clichéd or hokey. I’m a fiction writer. I write about heroes. But, I truly mean it. He’s not perfect. He just does what a hero does, his job. Every day. I don’t thank him enough for being a good provider, a terrific father, and a loving and supportive husband. Maybe his greatest feat has been putting up with me all these years. Thanks, sweetie.
So, who are the heroes in your life? Say thanks to them today.