Everybody Needs a Hero

Forty years ago this week, the whole world watched as a real life drama unfolded in space. The crew of Apollo 13, the third planned mission to the moon, was locked in a dramatic struggle to survive after an accident that forced NASA mission controllers to push the technology envelope beyond the limit and turned a potential tragedy into one of the nation’s most triumphant moments.

After reliving the events of that amazing week on a special Dateline NBC (yes, I am old enough to “relive” them), I watched HBO’s seriously excellent mini-series, “The Pacific.” Getting all caught up in this patriotic evening started making me think about what kind of person a Hero really is and how we perceive them.

People often look to heroic figures for inspiration, especially during difficult times.  And in 2010, I was curious what those types of figures are for different people and to see what was common among them.

Using highly-advanced scientific research methodology tools (such as Facebook, Twitter, and AIM), I reached out to friends and family to get some different perspectives.  Although the specific examples cited were different, there was a common theme. Simply that, a Hero is someone who acts selflessly to help others in need without concern for personal consequences.  What is so wonderful about this is that anyone can be a Hero.

Some of these highly inspirational people are often publicly recognized:

  • The three astronauts who 40 years ago remained amazingly calm despite horrific odds and the mission controllers who under incredible stress stayed focused and brought them home safely.
  • Soldiers fighting and dying in places with names like Pavuvu, Hamburger Hill, Fallujah and Kandahar.
  • Politicians who vote for what they believe is right rather than what their party tells them is right.
  • And naturally, firefighters and police who put themselves in danger to protect people they do not even know.

But others are people who are less recognized (but are still inspirational):

  •  The parent who tirelessly spends his or her free time racing from one kid’s after-school event to the next. 
  • The person who speaks out against discrimination, even in places where it is still the norm.
  • The friend battling terminal cancer who every day makes a point of asking me how MY day was.
  • The co-worker who helps you without being asked when they notice you having an off day.

These two lists could go on and on.  So in a world where the news is ripe with terrorism, economic crisis and golfer sex scandals – remember, there are still Heroes all around us.  You just have to look.