Find heroes

Stephen MarshMormon 15 Comments

I worked for a time on a project involving heroquests and myth structures.  I analyzed historic, legendary and fictional stories and texts, rituals, narratives and constructs.  I was once asked if I ever knew anyone who was truly heroic.

Though I did not know it, I did.  My dad.

My father was guileless, with heart breaking good looks that I envied. He had the charm I always wished for.  As a result of a college football injury he faced huge physical barriers.  I once sat as they shot the same set of x-rays on his back three times because the doctor could not believe he was getting the right x-rays for the patient in front of him.  As he said “You idiot, how could you get the wrong x-rays twice?  Can you see this man?  He is walking.  He is smiling.  The man who those x-rays goes with can’t walk and surely isn’t smiling.” After he walked the third set through himself he realized that the guy the x-rays went with really was my dad.

My dad was in the U.S. Air Force, but had cross trained as a forward fire observer and spoke Korean. I still have the marble lion the ROK Dragon Battalion chaplain gave him.  I won’t go into details, but I over time I learned a good deal about things my dad had done.  I’ll never see hard combat of the sort that generates nightmares.  I will never tie an Olympic record.  But what struck me in talking with him in the time before he died of Parkinson’s was that what he valued most about his life was the four missions he served and that he loved his wife and children.

He did not want his grandchildren to be told about or remember him for the things he had done that would strike anyone as heroic, whether in combat or in disaster relief efforts. He did not care about the sports experiences he had. What he wanted from us was to serve others and to love our families.

To him, that was more important, more heroic and more worth remembering or modeling, than anything else he did.  I’ve taken that to heart. I can love my wife and care for her. I can love my children and cherish them. I’ve served one mission and when I retire I can serve more. In the most important things my father left me, I can be like him.  After years of thought, I can find a hero and even be one.

What do you look for in a hero?  What would you like to be remembered for?  What have you decided you want to be?

Comments 15

  1. There was a story that someone told somewhere in the church. This man’s father had asked him to gas up the car on Saturday as church was the next day. The car was almost totally on empty. He forgot to gas up the car. His father did not gas up the car on Sunday but walked the 10 miles to church and back. He taught him a great lesson that day.

  2. 10 miles??? If he’s walking fast at 10 Min/mile, that’s nearly 2 hours 1 way–I think he missed the meeting.

    I mentioned my brother as a good example of working with “Samaritans” a few days ago on the Elder Scott post. I hope I can follow his example.

  3. I had to walk to Church and back once in Alaska when my ride didn’t show up for Priesthood while my dad was in Vietnam. But it was only a couple miles or so. Stake President picked me up half way home and gave me a ride the rest of the way. My mom had expected to meet me at Church, but the car wouldn’t start. Long story. But ten miles would have done me in.

  4. ten miles is a bit of a walk I guess, I had to walk like 25 miles once when my baja bug caught on fire. Caught a ride with a bunch of drunk cowboys doing 90 on backroads in the bed of a pickup truck. As for heroes how about this guy: He stormed a German machine gun nest in WWI in a cloud of mustard gas and when his pistol ran out of ammo he used a pickaxe. Balls of steel.

  5. Stephen, I feel your pain on the comments. 🙂 Actually, I really enjoy the tone of your posts. Very “quiet” in a relaxing, comfortable way, and are both personal and direct.

    What I’m most interested in is the personal challenges our heroes face. Not necessarily extreme examples of suffering or hardship, but day-to-day difficulties, overcoming bad parenting, beating addictions, etc. I am also inspired by watching couples change their marriage and taking huge risks.

  6. Stephen, your post was wonderful and uplifting and I enjoyed it. It’s just not controversial enough to get a bunch of comments. If you want those, talk about dress codes in church, whether mothers should hold their babies as their blessed, how boring our lessons/music/etc. are, or why people in the US can’t have a normal wedding their non-member friends and family can attend and then get sealed right afterward. People have more to say about such things.

  7. I agree, Stephen M, it was a beautiful post. For me some posts have me thinking of my comments halfway through reading the post, while others I simply enjoy reading. This was one of the latter for me. I enjoyed reading it although I don’t necessarily have much to say about it. Please keep it up.

  8. Post

    Thank you all for the encouragement.

    Arnster, the cure for being let down is to find your heroes in the places they are heroic, and not expect them to be unflawed, merely able to sacrifice at least once, when it counted, against the odds or for someone they loved.

    Not everyone will disarm a live experimental thermonuclear weapon on the ground in Newfoundland as it attempts to achieve a target lock and in a race before it decides to trigger a failure burst. Not everyone will do so without an assist (one guy disarms the nerve gas safeties, one guy disarms the weapon, if you have only one guy doing the job he has to count on the wind and getting done before he dies), expecting to die to save those they love.

    But each of us can sacrifice a little time playing a computer game, a little impatience, a little inconvenience for children and others who matter to us. I think we can all be heroes if we strive for being heroic where it counts.

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