He ro noun \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\ plural –roes A person, typically a man, noted for feats of courage, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his life. (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition. © 1982)
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word hero? I know for most of us, there’s an immediate response. For me? Simple. It’s people like our neighbor Bill, a police officer on a local force; our friends John and Susan, with their ministry to homeless men and their commitment to homeless single moms with children; a whole group of dads we know who are firefighters; my brothers in law (Jim’s brothers—all 3 of them!), our nephew, my dad and grandfather, and our son, who have willingly served in the armed forces—those are the first people who come to mind.
None of those people have sacrificed their lives to help others, and some of them have never even really put themselves at (serious) risk for others, but they all have another characteristic in common—they selflessly put others ahead of themselves. They are willing to meet the needs of others, to take care of others, and not count the cost to themselves. They willingly sacrifice things besides their lives: creature comforts, financial gain, safety, peace and quiet. They are, to a number, people whose lives exemplify qualities I would be proud to see in my own children.
It’s hard to help kids understand real heroes. Real heroes don’t have superpowers like Spiderman or Superman. Those are things most kids—boys especially!—find so attractive. But even then, they can learn at an early age that superpowers are not the only important thing for a hero. My little guys have a friend who is beginning to get it. Collin is 5, and he’s enchanted with Superman. He wears his Superman cape everywhere, and lives to wear his Superman shirt. But Collin’s parents are very good at helping Collin understand that being a hero is more than just having special superpowers. How do I know that Collin is getting it? Well, he made this:
to let the world know that inside that house, there was a young man willing to make sacrifices on your behalf. And, if I know Collin, he’d do it quite happily for a cookie. :)
The thing is…most of us don’t do a very good job of training up our children, our boys, to believe that being a hero is something they can do. Something they are capable of achieving. In that regard, Collin is light years ahead of his peers. That’s a good thing. Way to go, Mom and Dad. Keep up the good work.
And Collin? If I ever need a hero, I promise you’ll be the first person I call!