The courage, sacrifice and selflessness from so many over the past 200+ years of our country’s history that lets us live the lives we too-often take for granted is hard for me to comprehend. But the heroes in my life are more than just the soldiers who put their lives before others to enable and sustain our way of life.
The traditional definition of a “hero” is someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
By that definition, the military veterans we’re celebrating this weekend certainly apply.
But also by that definition, my wife qualifies too. We’re raising three kids all currently under five years old, she’s still teaching part-time, and my travel schedule means she’s too often doing that on her own during the week.
If that doesn’t define hero, I don’t know what does.
My grandpa served in the Pacific during World War II. He used to tell stories about hanging with the guys on deck, but rarely talked about the more difficult situations he faced on a regular basis.
When I asked my wife once how she handles those evenings when I’m not around, all three kids screaming for something, and she’s at her wit’s end, her almost-nonchalant answer confirmed her hero status. She said “when you don’t have a choice, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”
A hero is someone who does something we couldn’t do, don’t want to do, or don’t think we could possibly do.
My grandpa and my wife fit that definition well.
We all have our heroic moments, of course. But by definition we rarely recognize our heroic moments as heroic. When asked about them later, we are often surprised that others thought they were in fact heroic.
The individuals we consider our more cherished heroes don’t just face the occasional heroic moment. They seek it. They run towards the sound of those in need. They thrive when others would second-guess or walk away.
Not everyone can be a soldier. Not everyone can be a successful mother of three (or more).
But that’s why they are our heroes.