If I were to ask your everyday 7 to 10 year old what he or she thought a hero was, I’d get a plethora of interesting definitions.
I’m sure I would get several explanations of crime-fighting vigilantes in tight neon suits, but what actually makes a hero?
The word hero has several definitions (one denoting the sandwich, which is my personal favorite) and is used in several different contexts.
Most people, when they hear the word hero, think of grown men in capes and defined jawlines, but I think they are selling this word a little bit short. The word hero means so much more than just fictional characters who save the damsel or defeat the monster.
This word provides one of the strongest non-fictional messages. This word stands for an icon. For someone who people look up to and who they can trust.
So does this have to be Batman or Spider-Man? Why those names? How about Jim or Shannon instead? Those sound funny as hero names, right? I think those are perfect names.
Men that swing by spider silk they magically conjure out of their wrist don’t exist. Single mothers that work nine to five and then five to 11 do. What makes this spider guy such a hero? The fact that you saw him save someone with some string in a fictional movie? Why is that mother not considered a hero?
That mother is the woman whose feet hurt and back aches, but still carries around her baby girl when her legs get tired. This is the woman who works 14 hours a day and eats canned kidney beans for dinner, so she can afford diapers and food for her child. She’s the woman whose heart is probably is in a million pieces after that baby’s father walked out to get milk and decided to never come back.
She still keeps it together, sings her baby to sleep and drifts off in that little twin bed they both share.
How is this woman viewed? You don’t see little girls dressing up like her for Halloween or getting her action figure wrapped in red and white ribbon on Christmas morning. This woman is looked at like just another face in the bustling sea of the city.
I’m pretty sure that whatever paths each of us choose, they will never intersect. Think of that child though. That child’s mother is her rock. She is her overseer and her protector and would do almost anything to make sure that child is safe. That sounds like a hero to me.
We all do it every day. We look over the real heroes and look up to people who only live to please themselves and please their pockets.We idolize people who use our love for profit and conveniently are out of love to give back.
Think about how much hate police get. These men and women fight crime every day but receive more hate than most people I know. They don’t even get a neon suit. These men and women wake up every morning, kiss their spouse and children and go to work protecting us all.
Personally, it bothers me when people ruthlessly bash the police but would never put themselves in the line of danger that most police officers do. People begin to forget that police officers are people too.
They think of the police as an entity of control and they are ridiculed for doing their job. When these men and women get off work, they go home, kick off their shoes, grab a beer and do things that most of us normally do.
We need an overhaul on the word “hero.” We need to remember that costumes and powers aren’t the character traits that make up a hero. When I think of a hero I think sacrifice and selflessness.
Our definition of a true hero is clouded by our desire to experience things out of our reach. We all have our own heroes – someone who we would actually never call a hero, but you know they are the reason you are the person you are today.
Acknowledge them. Tell them they are your hero. Give them the recognition they deserve. When it’s all said and done, who’s actually going to save you?
Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.