Our society has fallen in love again with superheroes... web-spinning, gadget-wielding, villain-eradicating deities who have become our objects of reverence and admiration. The big screen movies spotlighting these comic book idols are entertaining, but the real heroes live in our towns and neighborhoods. All we need to do is look around us.
But look carefully. They are difficult to recognize. They don't spin webs. They do not fly through the air at staggering speeds. Nor do they transform themselves into mysterious winged do-gooders. However, they do wear disguises. They are fire fighters, plumbers, and accountants. They are husbands, fathers, and grandfathers. And from more recent wars and conflicts, wives and mothers too. But once upon a lifetime, they were soldiers.
They are exceptional people who endured unspeakable hardships with courage and poise. They are our veterans who walked around in foreign lands with the spectre of death firmly affixed to their shoulders, never flinching at the prospect that at any given moment they could be asked to make the supreme sacrifice.
Ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. People who returned home and tried to recapture what they'd left behind. They are the people who never asked for recognition or adulation --- only a place in the free society they'd built with their own blood, sweat, and tears.
Who do you know is brave enough to jump from an airplane at 10,000 feet into enemy territory? How many of us possess the intestinal fortitude to cross an icy river in the middle of December? Or to run 200 yards across a mine-laden field? Who among us is strong enough to hold a friend in our arms while feeling his life slip slowly through our very fingers? Who among us is resilient enough to persevere after the final shot has been fired, despite the emotional maelstrom still raging in the mind? These are the true heroes who are worthy of attention, respect, and emulation.
They do not wear masks. They have no capes or vainglorious logos emblazoned on their chests. A few times out of the year, they put on their old uniforms and march through towns. They do so out of love and respect for our country, for those who have died a heroes death, and for those who still serve today. Like true heroes, they are humble... not self-promoting.
This Veteran's Day, skip the movie theatre and take a walk down Main Street, USA in your town instead. Introduce your son or daughter to one of these real heroes. Explain to them all of the hardships and sacrifices these amazing individuals had to endure so that we can stand on our sidewalks each Memorial Day and Fourth of July... while eating cotton candy and waving our flags.