What is a hero? I often use the word without thinking too much about what it means. The dictionary offers several meanings. I was drawn to these two:
· one who shows great courage
· an object of extreme admiration and devotion
I started thinking about the people I call “hero”.
The famous people immediately come to mind. There are so many men and women who have shown great courage in so many ways. I have great admiration for these individuals:
Mother Teresa who humbly ministered to the poor and sick without ever judging anyone. My favorite quote from Mother Teresa is ““Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.”
Mister Rogers. Not enough can be said about the kind, gentle man. I have heard and read so many stories about him. Recently I heard about a young man who was struggling in life. He had a chance meeting with Mister Rogers. The young man stopped to tell Mister Rogers how much his show had meant to him as a boy. He mentioned his current struggles. Mister Rogers stopped and listened. Then asked the young man “Were you one of my neighbors? Would you like to talk about what is bothering you?” Then Mister Rogers stopped what he was doing and sat and talked with the young man.
Ellen DeGeneres. Here is a woman who exhibited great courage by coming out as gay at a time when it was not accepted and it ruined her career for a time. Thankfully she has gone on to be the brave, funny loving person who comes into our living rooms every day. She has made us all laugh and has offered so much hope to people thinking that their situation is hopeless.
Heroes are not always famous people.
I recently attended the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid. Watching those athletes push themselves beyond what seems humanly possible. I was especially moved by those women from my own Triathlon team. Women I know competing in a grueling event consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride followed by a marathon. These women are “objects of extreme admiration” for me.
Heroes are quite often the people closest to us. Family and friends. I think of my own family.
My husband is my hero in many ways. I think of his sacrifices when serving in Viet Nam as an innocent 19-year-old. Of the horrors, he endured. Of the Bronze Star, he received for “Heroism”. This man showed great courage.
I think of my own daughter who has grown into a woman with compassion and caring. She stands up to hatred and discrimination both in her work at a university as well as in her personal life. She is someone I admire.
Finally – when I think of the word hero – I think of all the people who are battling life threatening illnesses. Sadly, there are many of them in my life. I have watched friends and family endure the worst pain and suffering imaginable. They face their struggles with bravery and determination. With a will to survive. These people personify the term “hero”. They are courageous beyond belief and they are objects of my extreme admiration and devotion.
I devote this blog to my hero Traci who lost her battle with cancer 2 years ago. Traci personified the word hero. She battled her illness with determination, dignity, and grace. All the while reaching out to and helping others.
Who are your heroes?