There's a hero in each of us

  • Published
  • By Col. Pat Rose
  • 22nd Mission Support Group commander
As often as possible, we visit my family in a small town in central Pennsylvania. The route to their home in Indian Lake takes you past the field in Shanksville where United 93 went down on Sept. 11, 2001. On several occasions, we've been out to the site. As it stands today, there's a make-shift memorial in the middle of a large quiet field. 

The physical structure is nothing special to see. But the message from the site is loud and clear. Dozens of ordinary Americans became heroes that day with a single heroic act of preventing terrorists from slamming that aircraft into any number of high-profile buildings in Washington, D.C.
The passengers on United 93 didn't wake up that morning with the intention of becoming heroes. However, the heroic actions inside the aircraft that day played a part in changing history. They lost their lives while others were saved, and they will be forever remembered as national heroes. 

This leads me to a point I'd like to address. How many of you perform acts seen by others as heroic? What you consider to be ordinary acts, or acts just to get through the day, are sometimes seen as heroic acts by someone else. 

I bet most of you have had total strangers come up to you and thank you for serving. Maybe the individual is a veteran and understands the sacrifices; or maybe the individual is someone who values freedom, but for whatever reason, couldn't commit to serving a minimum of four years out of fear, health reasons or family considerations. In their eyes, merely by your association with serving in the world's greatest military and because of the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform over many years, you are heroes to them. 

Here's a sampling of what I consider heroic acts, in no particular order. You may find yourself to be one of my heroes. 

Heroes are: families who adopt children; those who are the first in their families to attend/graduate college; kids raised in urban settings who don't get caught up in drugs and gangs; victims who overcome personal assaults and are able to live normal lives; parents who raise physically or mentally handicapped children/adults; children who take care of parents who have become too old to care for themselves; anyone who works in a emergency room and is trained to deal with traumatic injuries; civil servants who serve the public at a much lower salary than if they worked in corporate America; college students away from home who still get up early on Sundays and go to church; designated drivers when it's not their turn; drivers who realize they had too much to drink and humbly call a friend for a ride; and those who choose a profession that regularly puts their lives on the line for the betterment of others such as firefighters, law enforcement, and men and women who serve in the military. 

While it's hard to be a hero 24/7, we all perform heroic acts, although some more dramatic than others. Since it's human nature to want to copy heroic acts, our heroic actions will be contagious. We are all heroes to someone at moments in time. Let's recognize and be cognizant of heroic acts in ourselves and others, and our mutual respect and appreciation for each other will grow. 

Writer's note: I recently read there is progress being made in negotiations to allow the government to buy the land and follow-on construction of a multi-million dollar memorial in Shanksville.