A thousand points of light

Who is your personal hero?
Write a personal essay about
your hero's accomplishments and
what makes that person a hero.

How many times did I write essays about my personal hero as I moved from big, clumsy letters scratched from an oversized pencil to smooth careful curves flowing from a ballpoint pen to awkwardly fumbling fingers on a computer keyboard?  When I was a child my heroes were important adults in my life; they were people who had accomplished great feats, faced great fears, and overcome great obstacles.  These were people whom I aspired to be like.  Some might have called them role models, but to me they were much more.  They were heroes.  They are heroes, still–those still with me, those far away, and those gone but not forgotten.

My heroes were not generic, faceless do-gooders, nor were they impersonal figures in a book or on a television screen.  They were real, tangible humans who made up my day-to-day experience.  They had faces, names, quirks, flaws, shortcomings, blood, tears, voices, laughter.  However familiar and close to me, they were at the same time years and years away because they were adults and I was a child.  Their actions and their hero status were out of my reach, if only by a few years (or a few inches).

Now I am an adult, and, as such, a member of that vast pool of potential heroes.  I’m casually aware of this when interacting with children and young adults, but became acutely aware of it yesterday listening to the President speak at the memorial for the soldiers tragically taken in the Fort Hood shooting last week.

“We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.”
–President Barack Obama
November 10, 2009

While the heroes of my childhood remain heroes to me still, my peers have become men and women of greatness–heroes in their own right.  Those bratty kids who sat next to me in English class, scrawling their own essays about their own childhood heroes are now teachers, soldiers, volunteers, mothers, and fathers.  In the midst of a world that can be so trying–where terrorist attacks, genocide, war, violence, and illness make up the evening news–it’s sometimes hard to find the bright spots.  Then again, it’s good to know that they’re all around me, all the time–the “thousand points of light” President George H. W. Bush spoke of two decades ago.

Today on Veteran’s Day, I’ll light a candle for my heroes–those beside me, those far away, those gone but not forgotten, and those newly realized.  My thousand points of light will flicker in one symbolic candle as I pause to appreciate and give thanks for the brightness they bring to this world.

And I’ll make time for a visit and chat with one very special hero whom I miss most of all:  My Papaw.



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Filed under Family, Friends, Growing up

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