The trouble with being a hero
By David Thornton
Not everyone wants to be a hero anymore. Charles Barkley even turned it down a few years ago. There are not too many war heroes anymore; it fell from an honor to an embarrassment during Viet Nam. The churches changed the Bible a little so now, instead of people having character, they want to be one. You have a mother who uses her soldier son’s grave to springboard into the lime light. Sports heroes are falling out of favor with each passing scandal.
Some people do not even know they are a hero or do not realize it until they are older and understand the world better. You can even be a hero in another country and not in your own. Such are the soldiers who served in Viet Nam and Korea. I’m not talking of the heroes of battle; they will get their reward at the roll-call up yonder. I’m talking about the every day heroes, the ones who did things selflessly to better the lives of others. We had a guy in our squad who was a “nerd” long before the name was invented. A real contradiction in life, an Infantry soldier with a PhD in Math from a prestigious Collage back east. He would sneak down to Seoul every chance he could, but no one knew what he was doing.
Turns out he was tutoring a bunch of kids when ever he got the chance. Why, because he cared! A Korean lady I know thinks my Army buddies and I are heroes because we helped save her country from the Communists. She lives in the States now, but has kids from Korea living with her for several months at a time being home-schooled. These are not rich kids having fun in America, these are kids whose parents were about to give up on them. She likes the ones who are failing school because they’re the ones she can do the most good for. One she is working with has trouble in math. Her parents beat her and were about to give up on her until she came to home school. She is the sweetest girl I know. If I had a daughter, I would want her to be like this girl. She is at a 6th grade level in math but has an IQ of 123. Why does she work with kids like this? Because she cares what happens to them.
Why do people who were spat on at the airport when they returned from doing their duty care? Why do people who were called baby-killers and animals by their friends and family go back to Korea? Because they care about the people. I’m sure the current group of soldiers will include some who will return to help rebuild. To survive in these countries you had to think like them, anticipate their next three moves. The North Koreans would always take their watches off before a fight so they would not break them. Asian thinking is a lot different then American thinking. That is why you do not fit in when you get back. That is why you can never go home again, like the town in the Pretenders song. It is just not there. You care about your adopted country and its people.
If you look around you can see everyday heroes everywhere. You do not have to give them money or fame. Chances are they wouldn’t want it. You can give them encouragement when they are down, or just a thumbs up to show you care. That is what Woody Hays meant when he said, “pay it forward!”
Someone has helped you in the past, so when it is your turn take the opportunity to care enough to help. You will find it is a good cure for some of the modern ailments too.