It’s Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of people are visiting graves, raising flags, and honoring those who died while serving our country. So it should come as no surprise that I’m sitting here thinking about heroes. I often think of my two favorite heroes, the men who inspired my characters Kadyn and Dan in The Broken series. Kadyn, the man who pulls together hostage extraction teams, commandeers jets, and stands between a gunman and the woman he loves. Dan, the Vietnam Vet and former skip tracer who steps in to protect an abused woman with a stalker, jumps out of trees, and still manages to crack a joke while punching out the bad guy.
These characters have got me thinking about what heroes look like. I’ve given it some serious thought and concluded that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Devastatingly handsome men with rock hard abs and witty remarks aren’t the only ones out there saving the day. I’ve run across a lot of heroes in my lifetime. Here’s just a few…
• The mother who donated her nine year old daughter’s organs after she was killed in a car crash on the 4th of July so she could turn that horrific tragedy into something good;
• The Vietnam Vet battling PTSD who seeks out soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq so he can help them cope with their PTSD;
• The nine pound Shih Tzu who really did stand between an abuser and his battered wife;
• The countless moms I know who have given up rewarding careers to become full-time caregivers and advocates for their special needs children;
• The Vietnam Vet who helped an elderly woman out of a snowbank on the corner of a busy street in Helena this winter;
• The father who gave up his kidney to save his daughter’s life;
• The husband and wife who rappelled down a 220 foot building to raise money for Special Olympics in Delaware earlier this month;
• The three nurses I know who continue nursing others while battling their own life-threatening medical conditions;
• The soldier who moved mountains to bring two homeless dogs from Afghanistan home with him;
• The woman who was abused for twelve years as a child who has devoted her life to teaching at risk four year olds;
• The man who stood by his wife’s side as she battled cancer, who still honors her memory as a single dad;
• The six year old girl who insisted her mommy hand over her allowance so she could give it to a homeless family;
• The family who adopted three children from an orphanage in Russia, when they were only planning to adopt one;
• The prisoner who decided it was not too late to do something good with his life so he trained a service dog for a special needs child;
• The veterinarian who sponsored a 5K Hero Dog Walk to raise money to pay for service dogs for injured and disabled military veterans;
• The university student who is volunteering at an orphanage in India during her summer break;
• The ten year old girl who received the Excellence in Supporting Special Education Award earlier this month; and
• The family who adopted not one, not two, not three, but four special needs children, including a child from North Korea who was expected to die from cancer within the year.
You don’t have to walk through Arlington Cemetery (although I would very much encourage you to do so) to know there are heroes among us. People who despite their own hardships, pain, and suffering do extraordinary things to help make this world a better place. I hope this post inspires you to reflect on the heroes in your life; tell them how much you respect and admire them; or do something heroic in their honor.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our military men and women. For them, it is never a single heroic act. They do heroic things every day. They risk their lives, sacrifice time with their families, and give everything they have to give twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for their country, the people they love, and people they don’t even know. And I don’t believe they are hard-wired this way. They make a conscious decision, weighing all the costs and the risks, and they choose to be our heroes every single minute of every single day. Long after they retire from the military, and even from their final resting place, they empower and inspire the rest of us to do heroic things. Thank you… every single one of you… who has chosen to serve in this way. You are my hero.