Tomorrow afternoon, the family of a hero will pass quietly through the streets of my almost-hometown Loganville, headed towards a memorial service to honor their slain loved one. On the Loganville Patch website, Jeff Allen has written of the community-wide request to line the sidewalks and driveways on Highway 78 with people as a way of saying thank you for Maj. W. David Gray’s service and sacrifice for our country and to support his family in their time of grief.
Next Tuesday, assuming all goes well, another hero will pass quietly through the streets of Latvia, looking to complete a quest that will change the life of a young woman and his own family. If he does so, it will be because our community supported him in his time of need. Kris Parker may be better known for his work as a blogger, fire fighter and youth pastor, but next week he will (God willing) travel to Latvia to assume the role of a superhero and bring his daughter, V, back home.
I have no desire to debate what makes a hero, because I firmly believe that heroism, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What may seem like a small act of kindness to you and me might be an outrageous act of heroism to the beneficiary. You just never know.
So without belaboring the point, I’d like to say thank you to the heroes all around us everyday. Whether you wear a uniform, get written up in the papers, or go about your business minus any fanfare whatsoever, your selflessness on behalf of your fellow men and women is a blessing to us all. You inspire. You heal. You make the often overwhelming miseries of this human life bearable because you give the truest gift of all: the gift of knowing that someone cares.
The gift of knowing that, even if only for a second, we matter.
Tomorrow, if you can take the five minutes required to find a parking spot and then walk to the side of 78, you can be a hero to Maj. Gray’s family. You can remind them that the Major wasn’t the only whose sacrifice we will remember and honor. For the few seconds it takes for their caravan to pass by, you can be a hero to a fallen hero’s family.
And if you can spare a couple of minutes to read Kris’ blog, and then spare a couple of dollars via the PayPal link at the bottom, then you can be a hero not only to Kris, but to V as well. She may never know the names of every person who gave her a chance for a family and a life beyond the orphanage walls, but that will not make those anonymous folks any less heroic.
The beauty in both of these opportunities is that we get to turn the traditional hero narrative on its head: instead of the hero saving the community, the community can save the heroes.
Now if only we could all wear capes…