Who’s Your Hero?

9-11-Ice-SculptureDo you have someone you look up to as a hero? I looked up “Hero” on Merriam-Webster online. They defined a hero as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities or a person who is just greatly admired.

Sometimes, our heroes are sports figures; players who have amazing athletic ability. They make unbelievable plays and deliver their teams from the clutches of defeat. Basketball has Michael Jordan. Baseball has Willie Mays. Football has Jim Brown. Hockey has Wayne Gretzky. Soccer has Pelé. Depending on your age or era / type of sports you follow, you probably have your own lists.

Sometimes we look up to teachers as heroes because of the impact they have on shaping our lives. Indeed, there are teachers who make extra efforts and invest huge amounts of themselves into their teaching craft. They volunteer to work with illiterate gang members and teach reading skills to prison inmates or, more radically, they place themselves in the paths of active shooters to shield their students from harm. Those teachers are indeed heroes.

People who persevere in spite of the circumstances are heroic. Parents of special needs children require superhuman measures of patience and endurance. Many of them could have aborted their imperfect children, but they bravely and faithfully chose life and all that goes with it. To me, that qualifies them as heroes.

I must also give a shout out here to my personal heroes – the volunteers who comprise our nation’s Armed Forces; The Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security) with whom I served.

How about our first responders? The U.S. Postal Service issued the “Heroes of 2001” “semi-postal” stamp in 2002. The “Heroes of 2001” stamp was mandated by an act of congress. The stamp bears an image of 3 NYFD Firefighters raising a flag amidst the wreckage of the World Trade Center at ground zero on 9/11/01. The stamp design is based on the famous photo by Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin of New Jersey. The stamp honors all of the heroes who responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In addition, as a “semi-postal” stamp, thirty-four cents of the forty-five cent face value paid for first class postage while an eleven cent surcharge attached to the price of the stamp went to a FEMA fund set up to assist families of injured or killed emergency relief personnel. These stamps can still be found for sale on the internet.

We lost hundreds of heroes on September 11, 2001 and over 1,500 more in the years since from dust exposure related health problems like cancer. Most of them didn’t consider themselves heroes. Most of them wouldn’t want to be called heroes; they were just “ordinary” people doing what needed to be done. But, when disasters strike or emergencies arise, “ordinary” people look danger in the eyes and run straight at it. It’s not that they’re super human or oblivious to fear. They live knowing the fragile nature and priceless value of life and are willing spend or give their lives to save the lives of others. So – I ask again. Who’s your hero?

© 2015 Curt Savage Media

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