When I was a kid, I had a lot of heroes like any child in America. Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Batman, Superman, Ken Griffey Jr…just to name a handful. I always wondered why I thought these guys were so inspirational. Even though some of my heroes were fictional characters in a comic book or a Hollywood movie. My true, number one hero, though, was my father. What son in this wonderful world didn’t look up to their Dad? Well, unless he was some dead-beat junkie that sat on the couch all day and did nothing but drink beer. I never had a Father like that so I feel fortunate.
My hero went to work everyday, came home and interacted with me. As far as I can remember, I had a great childhood. I mean, there were times when my Dad yelled and disciplined me, of course. That’s because I didn’t know shit or I was up to no good. And it was his job to learn me the right way. I remember later on in life when I would ask him about the days when he rode motorcycles, he would tell me why he gave them up. He told he that he didn’t want to wreck his bikes and possibly risk death and leave his children in a world without a father. To me, that is the true definition of selflessness. He wanted his kids. He loved his kids and he didn’t ever want to abandon them for selfish reasons.
When I joined the Army at the young age of 19, I never knew I would be categorized as someone’s hero. Of course, no one really appreciates ones countries military until something catastrophic happens like 9/11, right?
After that happened, anyone that joined the service before and after that date instantly became a hero in America’s mind. You see a soldier walking through the airport with his or her duffel bag slung over their shoulder, you want to stop and clap. Or offer a handshake. Or simply walk up and thank them for their service without regard of what they’ve been through. I feel the same way about my predecessors though. The guys that fought in Vietnam and World War II. I want to thank them for what they’ve been through. I don’t know what stops me. I simply just stare at them.
Alas, I’m not your hero. I never saved a life in Iraq. I was never under attack where I had to make a decision to tell my guys to fire back. I never even saw an enemy except when I pulled guard duty in the detainee tent that stunk like a fucking rotten hamster cage or when we had to escort a 5-ton full of them to Biop (Baghdad International Airport) and dump them off into the hands of the 10th Mountain Division. I just stood there like a dumbfuck by the 5-ton watching the detainees get off the truck, scrambling around blindfolded. But it wasn’t me who had captured them.
I’m not sure it would make me a hero to get my ass shot off or to get blown up by an IED. A lot of soldiers did get their asses shot off and a lot have been hit by countless IEDs.