There is something about this weekend every year that stirs up a lot of emotions. School will let out soon, so my kids are itching with the anticipation of warm summer days. The thought of family picnics, swimming at the lake, and late night bonfires makes me smile too. It’s that first taste of what summer has in store. We’ve endured another long, cold winter in western PA, so a long weekend of chaos and relaxation somehow harmonizing seems to be exactly what we need. But seeped into the weekend plans is the real reason for this weekend. The men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and our freedoms. How incredibly humbling it is to stop and think of all of the loved ones lost so that we can continue to live freely. We find little ways to show our appreciation. Flag decor, sharing stories of those who have served, maybe a parade or a special Sunday service. We remember and we continue the traditions so that future generations never forget.
I got to thinking about the topic of heroes this week. What makes a hero? Are heroes born or made? Who determines what actions qualify as heroism. The Wikipedia definition of a hero is as follows: A real person or a main fictional character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity,bravery or strength; the original hero type of classical epics did such things for the sake of glory and honor. On the other hand are post-classical and modern heroes, who perform great deeds or selfless acts for the common good instead of the classical goal of wealth, pride, and fame.
As I was researching ideas for this blog, I started thinking about the heroes in my life. The post-classical modern type. It made me think of the many people who have helped me or guided me to become who I am today. From my parents and extended family to teachers and pastoral staff, friends and acquaintances who’ve poured into my life over the years. I can’t help but think of how many unsung heroes exist out there. Whose stories aren’t told and quietly drift into history. From brave military heroes, to single moms and dads, to 12th Grade English teachers. Do they know what influence they have?
I would wager to guess that many of the pivotal quotes and pep talks that ring in my mind were spoken by people who haven't a clue the influence that they had on me. That they had no idea that the motivational anecdote they offered would be the thing that has gotten me through extremely hard times in my life. Do you know the influence that you have on the people around you? Are you aware of the effect that your words and actions have on the people around you? I think that many of us don’t think about such things on a daily basis. We don’t recognize the domino effect that a simple act of kindness can generate.
The majority of us will never put on a military uniform. Nor will we know the heartbreak of loving a soldier that never comes home. But we can find small ways to pay honor and tribute to them everyday. Because of their sacrifice we can choose to wake up everyday and decide to be world changers. Even if it's just paying for a cup of coffee for a perfect stranger, holding a door, giving a compliment or even just a smile. Small acts of unsung heroes.
So as you remember our fallen heroes today, I also hope you remember that even if you feel weak you can still be kind. True power is in giving instead of taking.