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What is a hero?

The Way I See It

February 18, 2011
By John Sheda
When I was a kid, which was a long, long time ago, I had my heroes. Mickey Mantle, #7, of the New York Yankees was probably my favorite. But Johnny Unitas, #19, of the Baltimore Colts was there too. And who can forget Wilt Champerlain of the Philadelphia 76ers, who scored 100 points in one basketball game. But are these people really heroes?  Today we have Tiger Woods, (or used to anyway), Lebron James and of course Derek Jeter. But again, are they really heroes or just superstars in a specific sport that they excel in.

 If these aforementioned people are not heroes, then just exactly what is a hero?  Hmmmm, thought you’d never ask. According to the dictionary, a hero is “a person who is looked up to for having done something brave or noble.” Researching the word “hero” further, other words started to crop up—-words like COURAGE, SACRIFICE, STRENGTH and VALOR. Then there’s this definition. “Someone who places more value on those people around them, acting without thought or regard to their own personal safety.”  Now, that’s a definition. So, do professional athletes, sports superstars, talented magicians and award-winning actors & actresses live up to these defintions? Nah, not really.  In fact, not at all.

 The real hero is the man or woman currently serving in the United States Armend Forces or the Veteran who has already done his or her duty. I know it’s probably not the right time to talk about the Veteran or those currently serving faithfully. 

It’s not Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day or the 4th of July. But do we need to wait for these and other specific days to honor these heroes? Veterans and those who will become Veterans deserve to be recognized every day. These men and women give up the most valuable thing we all have......a part of our lives. 

Whether its two years, four years or twenty years, these heroes could have been doing something else. But they answered the call to serve their country, with pride, dignity and honor.  Some did so voluntarily while others did so when called. Either way, it was and is a great sacrifice.

 And as a side note here....perhaps the darkest moment in U. S. history is the way the Viet Nam Veteran was treated when he returned home. Right, Jane Fonda?? 

 Its’ the Vet who is the hero, the man or woman who is doing something noble and brave. It’s the Veteran we should think about when words like courage, strength, sacrifice and valor are tossed around. It’s the Vet who really places more value on those around him and acts without regard to their own personal safety. 

 I just read where about one/third of homeless people are Veterans. If this is true, it’s a shame and another dark moment in U.S. history. These people and many others allow us the freedom to worship whoever and wherever we want, to criticize our country and give the media the freedom to give us the news without reprisal or incrimination.   

 Throughout history it’s been the Veteran who has caused the United States to become the greatest nation on the face of the earth. And in less than 200 years. No other nation even comes close.

 So when your children or grandchildren are idolizing those men and women dribbling basketballs, putting golf balls, hitting home runs, playing steel guitars and winning Academy awards, make sure they also get to know the Veteran. You see, the true American hero is the man or woman who proudly serves or served in the Armed Forces. That is the real hero.  And if you have the time, tonight before you go to bed, say a little prayer for those right this moment fighting for our freedoms....wherever they might be. 

“That’s The  Way I See It.” 

Let me know how you see it at jsheda@indytel.com. You can also call me at 319-334-4117.

Sleep well tonight!

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