In honor of Memorial Day and those that have given their lives so that I may live in freedom, I offer my thoughts on what makes a true hero.
It's obviously a matter of definition. For example, a new book from Brad Metzer called Heroes for My Son offers a heartwarming series of stories in following your dreams. My standards for heroism must be higher than the author's because I'm not putting guys like Jim Henson and Steven Speilberg on my list.
In my opinion, four characteristics make a hero: courage, purpose, sacrifice and success. Many have two or three of these, but precious few have all four and a lack of even one can be a fatal character flaw. Success without purpose is vanity. Sacrifice without success is martyrdom. Purpose without courage is cowardice.
Here are the first few heroes that come to mind.
- George Washington
- Mother Teresa
- Abraham Lincoln
- Apollo 11 astronauts
- Pat Tillman
Undoubtedly, there are countless unsung soldiers, single parents and social workers whose sacrifice and bravery would put them on this list. Unfortunately, I simply don't know them or their stories. I wish I did, especially since I'm having such a hard time coming up with any others that meet all the criteria.
Now I know how Diogenes felt.
Anyone to add to the list?