Tuesday, October 27, 2009

are there still heroes in america? [essay for vfw]

Are there still heroes in America?
I live in a city in Kentucky people never hear about. I rarely get out of the tri-state area; I'm only sixteen years old and I know nothing of this world, very little of my country. As a child, I get my information about this world from other people; newspapers, television programs, adults who answer obvious questions. I have years before I’ll understand what it really means to live in a country like this; I have nothing to compare to and no life experiences to call upon. But I realize there are millions of Americans in the very same boat, and they make up part of this country too. Every Americans opinion matters just as much as mine. So when I'm asked about heroes in America, it’s not the obvious ones I think about. Everyday I’m reminded about the solders over seas protecting my freedom, the police force and firemen protecting my safety, and my parents protecting my future. But in the real world, I don't realize what the solders go through and how that effects my life, I’ve never been directly saved by a policeman or fireman to fully appreciate their jobs, and I’m too hard headed and stubborn to acknowledge what my parents do for my life. That’s how my world is; it doesn't make me selfish or unpatriotic, only with a lot about the world to learn. So who do kids like me see as heroes? Are there and worthy people left to idolize? After all, when was the last time anyone threw an average Joe up on the pedestal? It comes down to people like me, who only come into contact with the average, and who discover the heroics in them. It's obvious some people are heroes. It comes with their job and they know they're going to be one. But within the range of the average, those who help without realizing their sacrifice are the obscure heroes. In my America, one I can see with the eyes of someone who's barely gazed past high school, heroes exist. Not in capes or uniforms, they operate undercover and under the belief that they are doing nothing special. It's the things that seem so small and insignificant, that are not asked to but need to be done, and that hold us as people together. It's when people extend themselves to help others, solely because they feel right doing so, that they become heroes. It's the small acts of kindness, ones that are often looked past today and almost twisted to seem cliché', that distinguish the real heroes. It takes something special to be able to go out of your way, often at your own expense, to make someone else's day, or life, better. So many people underestimate the power of random acts of kindness, or ones planned and sacrificed for. If you still believe our job-title-heroes are the only ones deserving the name, consider the world they grew up in. More often than not, it takes someone to demonstrate who a hero can be so they can see who they could become. A teacher once told me that heroes are not only made on the battle field, but created at home. In that same way, heroes can be created over a lifetime, not proclaimed after one righteous act. The heroes of today, ones many of America look up to, will always have people to thank from their lifetime, who shaped their future acts and choices by showing them kindness. That influence could be anyone from loving parents, to optimism found in serendipity. It's this that convinces me that the heroes I know in America are the ones setting the road for the larger known ones to come. It is a lot easier to become a hero knowing what you’re doing all the way, than to be found heroic based on who you really are. There will always be heroes in America, but the admirers of these people will not always be in agreement. My believing one person is a hero, cannot change the actions of that person and the effects on others. My standards on heroics are unique from others, and so it should be. Hero is such an interchangeable word, like love or respect, so that there can be no one definition of it, it must be allowed to change and morph with the person speaking of it. Asking if there are any heroes left in America is like asking if there any love left, or patriotism. What is love to me and to anyone else? Who are real patriots in my views, and of yours? As long as we live in this country, we will always have heroes. People will always find someone else to rise higher, to praise and admire. The meaning behind this word is the only thing that can change.