Not every Marine is a hero. During field training exercises at Parris Island, South Carolina, one drill instructor threw a pine cone among the recruits and yelled, "Grenade!" The trainees immediately turned away and hit the ground. "Just as I suspected," chided the drill instructor. "Not a hero among you! Didn't anyone want to jump on that grenade to save the others?"
A little later the instructor tossed another pine cone and yelled, "Grenade!" This time, all the recruits but one jumped on the "explosive."
"Why are you still standing there?" the DI demanded.
"Sir," the recruit replied, "someone had to live to tell about it."
Not everyone is a hero. But then, not every hero jumps on grenades, pulls terrified children from burning buildings, or wears an impressive uniform.
Do you know a hero? I am not asking you to simply name a favorite celebrity. There is a difference.
Do you know a hero? I think perhaps you do. Heroes, you see, can be found in some of the most unexpected places. I knew a young mother who was slowly dying of cancer, yet she put aside her pain long enough every day to smile and laugh with her children. She tried hard every day to bring sunshine into the gloomy hospital room when her family was present. And I watched her husband fill the roles of single parent and financial provider, and still spend every remaining moment sitting at his mate's bedside, valiantly
encouraging and offering whatever hope he could muster.
I knew a talented teacher who could have worked at a far more lucrative profession, yet was determined to stay in a disadvantaged school in the hope that she could make a difference in a difficult situation. She did it for her students.
I've known other heroes, too.
You may have noticed - many of the world's true heroes will never be confused with action figures. Most have never been to battle, competed athletically nor sung in a pop band. But they have faced nearly impossible challenges with unimaginable determination and courage. They found what it takes to bear the unbearable, forgive the unforgivable, love the unlovable, outlast the unendurable or defeat the undefeatable. And often they do it for the sake of others.
Do you know a hero? Maybe one lives in your home. And perhaps one even looks back at you from the mirror. For it is in everyday battles of the spirit that true wars are fought and won. And it is those real-life heroes who give the rest of us hope and remind us
that anything is possible.
Do you know a hero? I think you do.