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Heroes. Where do they come from? 
John R. Morgan

515 3rd Avenue North
Clear Lake, Iowa

Rolfe High School class of 1966

poppy2.jpg (48551 bytes)

Memorial Day 2002 Rolfe, Iowa

Decoration Day. Memorial Day. They were and are designated to honor and recognize the women and men who have sacrificed their time, limbs, minds and lives to protect our freedoms. It is also an opportunity to honor the other individuals that have made significant contributions to our own, our state's, and our nations well being. It doesn't diminish the honor of either by shouting out that all of these individuals are heroes to one degree or another.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

What is a hero? Henry David Thoreau served as a male nurse in the Civil War. He observed men fighting and dying and stated, "The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men." This past year has taught us again that heroes don't plan on being heroes. Instead they become exceptional persons by rising to meet uncommon events.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

What is a hero? All of us have our memories of September 11, 2001. Mine is of a fireman rushing towards the World Trade Center. He is stopped and asked by a reporter why he is in such a hurry to go there. His reply "It's my job. People are depending upon me." I don't know if he survived the collapse of the towers but his words have remained with and inspired me.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

What is a hero? Webster defines a hero as "a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability." I can't imagine a true hero doing anything but laughing at such a description of themselves. General Omar Bradley said, "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." General Wainwright was more blunt in stating, "There is no such thing as bravery, only degrees of fear."

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you ! They are here!

What is a hero? Webster continues with a description of a hero as "one that shows great courage." This is possibly closer to the reality each of us visualizes when speaking of heroes. The hero performs acts that would ordinarily be seen as impossible or demanding sacrifice beyond what is expected. Actual heroes say they perform the acts they did, not for country or some abstract idea. The commit their deeds of courage and bravery in an effort to save their buddies.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

What is a hero? Martin Luther King stated, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." As Dr. King demonstrated the hero stands up for his or her beliefs when the winds of public opinion are blowing against you as well as at your back.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

Heroes represent goodness. As Alexander Solzhenitzyn observed during the years he spent in Soviet prisons, "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes nor between parties either but right through the human heart. "Heroic actions come from the heart of the giver." I paraphrase Leo Rosten when I say, "It is generally the weak that are cruel, and gentleness comes from the strong. Each, weak or strong, represent the values he or she have learned."

Heroes. Where do the come from? Look around you! They are here!

Heroes do right. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. "Nelson Mandela noted; "we must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." Heroes try to eradicate the darkness.

Heroes. Where do the come from? Look around you! They are here!

Will we find all heroes on the battlefield? Definitely not! Are all heroes military people? No. Are we ready to be tested? As Abraham Lincoln so aptly wrote, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. "Heroes have been given immense power. The power to save lives, the power to do right, the power to accomplish positive goals. These are the greatest of powers. Heroes have faced their fears and come to the realization that something else is more important than fear. They conquer fear and accomplish things that make our world better.

Heroes. Where do they come from? Look around you! They are here!

Our enemies are ever with us. They can attack us directly or use stealth in the night. The direct assaults are usually easy to identify but not so those who camouflage their attack. Eric Hoffer helps us identify our enemies by using a simple yardstick and, I quote, "You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."

What is it that they fear most about the United States? It is our freedoms of religion, speech, assembly and press. We openly discuss our differences. We openly discuss areas we would like to improve in our nation. We disagree often but accept our diversity. We are open and not closed. When we begin to fear the very freedoms that give us strength our enemies have won.

But our heroes, both military and civilian, keep coming forward to face the challenges for us. They give us courage when we may be weak. They give us direction when we may be wandering. They give us the light to follow out of a darkness our enemies would cast over us.

Heroes! Where do they come from? From farms and cities. From rich and poor. From majorities and minorities. From Men and Women. From America.

Look around you! They are here! Your neighbor may be one! You can be one!


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