My first ever hero was my dad. I thought of him as John Wayne, the strong, silent type who was always at kind of a loss with three daughters. Together, we watched Audie Murphy movies and laughed over Looney Tunes, fished for bluegills, listened to the Detroit Tiger games on the radio, and suffered from whiplash when he tried to teach my oldest sister how to drive a stick shift. He taught me to ride dirt bikes on the trails by our cabin up north and how to check the oil on my first car. But he was more than that I discovered going through a box of old black and white photos and yellowed news clippings. He’d served in the Army medical corps in WWII carrying morphine during the fighting in the Philippines. The only stories he ever told us were funny ones about riding giant tortoises and digging latrines. How I wish he’d shared more.
We write about heroes in our books. They’re larger than life, often tortured by deeds of the past. They always look great without a shirt, are noble (or not so noble until tamed by the woman of their dreams), don’t break wind at the table or leave toothpaste in the sink. We would run off with them in a heartbeat . . . at least for 300+ pages . . . and we wish for more. These are our fantasy heroes built off real human prototypes who are rugged rescuers, defenders of faith and family, risking everything for little or no reward. Who let old photos and discolored clippings tell the tales of their bravery.
Here’s to those who fight for us, those who protect us, those who’ve given all for us. Those who keep our streets safe, put out our fires, plow our snow, pick up our trash, cure our diseases, and heal our bodies, our hearts and our souls. And, oh yeah, our heroes aren’t just men. They’re the ladies rolling bandages (like my mom!), flying helicopters, working 12 hours shifts, teaching our next generation, sitting up all night with a sick child. Doing the jobs we don’t have time to do or the talent to do so our lives can be that much better and brighter.
Here’s to our heroes on this Memorial Day! May we raise them, may we love and support them. May we never run out of them.
Who were your heroes growing up?