Today, June 6th, is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the landing of our American troops on the shores of Normandy, France, which was the beginning of the end to World War II and Hitler's empire.
This day has always meant something to me: my father fought in this war, my older brother died in this war, my ex-husband fought in this war, and my husband of 35 years fought in the Korean War. To me, all four of these men are heroes, as are ALL the men and women who have fought, died, or returned home from the wars we have been involved in.
At the same time, it makes me wonder just who are the heroes of today? So many times, sports stars from football, baseball, basketball, and the like are touted by the media as being "heroes." Really? What makes a football star a hero? I guess it depends upon your definition of who or what a "hero" really is...what makes that person a hero.
This is my definition: A hero is a person who willingly, and without a thought of him/herself, makes a personal sacrifice for the sake of someone else, known or unknown.
That is why every single member of our Armed Forces is a hero to me. Because each of these men and women have volunteered to sacrifice their own life, if necessary, in order to create safety for those of us left on the shores of the United States.
That is why each and every member of the First Responders on September 11, 2001, is a hero to me. They willingly and courageously risked their own lives, and many lost them, to save the lives of hundreds of people they didn't know.
So what makes a sports star a hero? Because they single-handedly won a game? Because they scored more points, more home runs, more field goals, than any other member of the team? So what? Where is the personal sacrifice in that? It's just a game where any member of the team could have done the same thing if he had the strenght/ability/opportunity to do so.
The media has called Captain Sullivan, the pilot of the plane that landed in the Hudson River, a hero. Yes, he displayed heroic qualities, but what personal sacrifice did he make to set Flight 1549 down safely in that river? He was concerned for the safety of his passengers and crew, and he performed a courageous act to save their lives, but at no time was he in any more danger than anyone else on that plane. He had the knowledge, the expertise, the ability, and the opportunity to save that plane and all aboard it, and he did so. He is a courageous man, a highly skilled pilot, but not a hero. At least, not in my book.
I have a hero in my family. My daughter-in-law, who has continued to work 40 hours a week at a grueling job as a Medical Assistant at our State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and then come home to spend the rest of every hour of every day taking care of my son, diagnosed almost 2 years ago with FrontalTemporal Lobe Dementia. Under no circumstances has she ever, for one minute, considered having him placed in a facility, in order to give herself more free time and a better kind of life. He is now in Hospice, in the last stages of this disease, soon to be totally bedridden, but because of her love for him, she sacrifices her own health...she has severe Rheumatoid Arthritis...and at times, even her own safety, in order to care for him. Is her life at risk? No, not at all. But she has willingly made many personal sacrifices to keep my son at home with her in order to take care of him. Is she a hero? You better believe it.
Who are the unsung heroes in our midst? How about the four teachers, school psychologist, and Principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, who all died defending their students? How about six year old Jesse Lewis, who yelled "Run! to the kids in his class when the gunman rushed in but had to reload his weapon before he could begin shooting again. His first shot went into the head of Jesse, who had waited until everyone else was out the door before he turned to run. Too late.
What about all the grandparents today who are raising their grandchildren because their own kids have left the life of responsibility to drown in drugs, or alcohol, or are in prison for crimes they have committed? These people have made personal sacrifices, some have even had to return to work after enjoying years of retirement, just to raise, for the second time, kids. Of their kids. I could not do it. To me, those who do are heroes.
Where are the values of today's society, who heap praise upon praise for sports stars, celebrities, and other people of note, when they call these people who have done nothing "heroes?" As a society, have we fallen so low that a hero to us is nothing more than someone who has 715 homeruns, or is a celebrity leading an immature and often drug-filled life but who is held up by the media as being a "star?" These are the people our children are supposed to emulate, to be impressed by, to hold up as "heroes?" Not in my book.
Who are your heroes?
Until next time,
That's a wrap.