What makes someone a hero? The official definition of hero provides only a little help:
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure of great strength or ability b : an outstanding warrior or soldier c : a person admired for achievements and qualities d : one that shows great courage. 2 : the chief figure in a literary work or in an event or period.
In our celebrity-obsessed age, it’s easy for our kids to get confused about what a hero is or is not. Does just being famous make you a hero? How about being super-talented in music, art or sports? Why are the heroes we study in school mostly people from history?
I define a hero as someone with courage and integrity, and when put to the test, they rise to the occasion through selfless action or inspirational achievement. A hero does not need to be famous or talented, although this makes them easier to spot.
Heroes can be hard to find these days. No one is perfect and heroes don’t live up to their ideals all of the time, but many would-be heroes today are generally missing one of the critical qualities or lose them quickly in the glare of the spotlight. Think Tiger Woods.
We definitely saw some good examples of heroes during the Boston tragedy. We also see heroes serving in the armed forces every day, although I would argue we don’t hear enough of their stories.
Here are a few other living heroes to tell our kids about as we inspire them to emulate the right kind of people. The first is making headlines as we speak. Jason Collins – the NBA player who is the first male openly gay pro athlete – is a hero not because of his great athletic ability. He is a hero because he risked a career he always dreamed about in order to live authentically and help lead the way for others in sports to do the same. Courage. Integrity. Inspirational achievement. He is also by all accounts a nice, honest, and faithful person. Yup – someone I want Harry to know about.
And others …
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Gary Haugen 1 of 5Successful lawyer steps away from a rising career to rescue the poor from oppression. Read more.
Dick Hoyt 2 of 5Father's tireless devotion to son, running races together to inspire others. See more.
Diane Latiker 3 of 5Grandmother invites dangerous gang members into her home to help them change their lives. Read more.
Scott Neeson 4 of 5Hollywood executive gives up fortune and glamorous life - sports car, yacht and all - to help Cambodian children. Read more.
Cameron Lyle 5 of 5Athlete sidelines his career to donate bone marrow to save patient with leukemia. Read more.