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St. Louis, MO, United States
What the name sez, Christian, conservative, 2nd amendment supporter. Physician, wife, daughter and loving mother.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Real American Heroes--Far Too Few

Over a decade ago, my daughter was applying to colleges and the mandatory essay was a sore subject in our home. The topic of "A LIVING American Hero" was required by one of the colleges and finding one was giving her fits. First the criteria of "Living" honed the list considerably. Then "American" took away the contenders from other countries. My suggestions were rebuffed as being unfamiliar, old or in some other way inappropriate for a pithy (not to mention cool) college essay...all of which was OK with me, but when turned back on her with suggestions of contemporary cultural icons, entertainers, sports figures and other more familiar individuals, she also had reasons why they were unsuited to be considered heroes. This debate went on for days with the deadline looming and finally in desperation, I suggested that if there were no REAL American Heroes in her perspective of what this entailed, then why not write the essay and entitle it "Today there are NO Real American Heroes." And then defend this position and let her opinions fly. After all, the essay is really all about your written communication skills, how you defend your position and not so much who you choose. And that was the essay she wrote! I found the essay quite revealing and apparently so did the college for which it was written as it was one of the ones who accepted her and offered her financial incentives to attend.

Today, the world has changed significantly. 9-11 gave us stories of people who literally laid down their lives to save others in the Twin Towers. All of us know, at least peripherally, young men and women who have joined the military for the cause of freedom and some of them have given mightily with their blood or their lives for that cause. But bubbling to the surface in the past months are the names of two more ordinary Americans who, I feel, are true role models for all Americans. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Captain Richard Phillips, ordinary people, who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and who responded in courageous and altruistic ways.

If you don't know who these remarkable men are, you must be living under a rock or watching too much MTV, but "Sully" Sullenberger was the captain of US Airways Flight 1549 who crash landed his plane in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all aboard his plane. Captain Sullenberger was the last to leave the plane, walking it twice to make certain that there were no other passengers left behind and later worrying that a library book was in his possession on the plane and was lost. His clear head, bravery, clarity under duress saved the lives of 151 passengers. His quiet humility was impressive after the fact. His peers, however, acknowledged that this was the sort of thing that they would have expected from a true leader like Sully.

And last week on Easter Sunday, Captain Richard Phillips from the Maersk Alabama was rescued by US Navy Seal snipers from Somali pirates who had held him for 5 days. He allowed himself to be taken hostage so that the ship and the rest of his crew could go free. When he returned from his captivity, he said that the real heroes were the US Navy Seals who pulled off the dramatic rescue. Again, he was humble and dignified and displayed grace under fire. His crew, when interviewed, again praised the Captain and freely indicated that this was the kind of leader that he was.

These are the true American heroes that walk among us every day. They are the unknown and unsung heroes until serendipity places them in a place where bravery, courage and dignity simply happen because something needs to be done. They are the heroes who don't see themselves as doing something extraordinary, but rather as folks who are just doing their jobs.

Politically, conservatives are looking for a real American hero who will rise up and take the political reins. Right now there is a great deal of searching among the known commodities and nothing is coming to the forefront. Perhaps the real hero will be someone who rises from the ranks of the common man and is "just doing his job."


  1. Entirely agree. Actually we are promoting this actions with; never seen Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger video, check this out
    www.ournewamericanhero.com Be part of Hudson story and vote for Man of year 2009.

  2. Entirely agree. Actually we are promoting this actions with; never seen Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger video, check this out
    www.ournewamericanhero.com Be part of Hudson story and vote for Man of year 2009.

  3. Carol, your daughter should be so very proud of you! I really liked this post and agree with you on the everyday hero's of modern times. Give her some miles behind her and she will see someday; that her mother fits the discription. You have stepped up to the job of becoming an activist and fighting for what is right for your country and have a successful carreer to boot! God's blessing's to you and yours!