I am sometimes amused at the term hero. I reserve that for very few and even then I allow for the human frailty of that so-called hero. We use the term to describe sports figures. We use it to describe leaders of industry and we use it so often that it has no meaning. We have to ask ourselves if Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong is a hero. Was any athlete a hero based on their success a hero? Not to me. I may have admired Joe DiMaggio, but he was a great and determined talented sportsman, nothing more. And yes, I did admire him.
However, there are real heroes. Ironically they are usually the same people who will shrug their shoulders and smile when called a hero, as of if to say, “I was only doing my job.” And often they are the words we hear precisely. Think of the fireman, policeman, soldier, and the occasional citizen, who went out of his way to save another person from an oncoming train at great risk to himself. They are real heroes. They are people who are aware of danger and act anyway.
Sometimes acting heroically is a function of impulse. That impulse deserves proper accolades, but it is the will to persevere while under constant pressure that deserves the most credit.
When you can get up in the morning and know the dangers you face in carrying out your mission and still you do it. When you set your head down on a pillow at the end the day knowing threats are being made on your person and family and you still go on, and when that threat lasts for days, weeks, and years, you still move forward, that is heroic behavior most of us cannot live up to.
Today we celebrate the birthday of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He was that determined, long-view visionary. His vision was attractive to black Americans for sure, but he was also an inspiration to a lot of white people, especially among the young.
Whenever we dream as big as the modern Civil Rights movement there is danger. Dr. King was always aware of his vulnerability and yet he never gave up. That defines hero for me