Neighborhood heroes shoveling snow off of a roof.

Everyday Heroes Everywhere

I was meandering around the Internet the other day (kids, don't try this at home!) and happened to Google the word "hero." I saw information about a 2002 martial arts movie titled "Hero," a Wikipedia entry on the concept of "Hero," various online dictionary definitions of "Hero" and a link to Mariah Carey singing "Hero."

I clicked on that one. I like the song and I don't mind watching Mariah Carey.

But that isn't really what I was looking for. I was interested in finding stories about contemporary heroes. So I Googled the words "Heroes for today" and I found stories about the heroes of D-Day, a literary review of a new book about the heroes of the Alamo and a USA Today story about an "Avengers vs. X-Men" comic book. With all my heart I honor the heroes of D-Day and the Alamo, and I'm kind of interested in that comic book (are you kidding? Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Colossus all together? Shazam!)

But that still wasn't what I was looking for. So I went for a walk. As I stepped outside I waved at my neighbor Creig, who was cleaning out his gear for what he told me is his 12th year at Scout summer camp.

"Twelve years!" I said, trying to wrap my mind around the total cost to Creig in terms of vacation days, corny skits, flag ceremonies, tin foil dinners and s'mores. "I can't even imagine doing that. You're my hero!"

I thought about that as I walked away and headed down the street. It occurred to me that maybe I had been looking for heroes in the wrong place. Maybe they're not on Google. Maybe they're on the street. Creig is certainly one. And so is Dave, who lives two doors down and who just got back from spending two weeks in Guatemala with a group that provides medical and dental services to the poor and needy. This is like the fifth or sixth time he's made a humanitarian trip like that. That's pretty heroic, isn't it?

As I continued walking around the neighborhood I discovered that I am surrounded by heroes. As I walked past the Chen home I was reminded of how they left good jobs in China to immigrate to America because they were concerned for the future well-being of their children. Then I walked past Janet's house and remembered how she brings many of the ladies in the neighborhood together each week to tie quilts, which are then donated to charity. She's responsible for thousands of quilts being donated, which means there are likely thousands of people out there who will sleep warmer tonight because of Janet.

Suddenly it seemed to me that there were heroes everywhere I walked: Alan, who sits in the back of his church each week and interprets the services for a little girl who is hearing impaired; Bruce, who is always there when a neighbor's car needs to be repaired or garage door needs to be fixed; Daniel, a brilliant young man who spends several hours each week playing, dancing, singing and coloring with a group of mentally disabled teenagers; Ginger, whose response to being deserted by her husband of 30 years is to return to college at age 50 to get a degree that will help her control her own destiny.

Brave? Absolutely!

Courageous? No doubt!

And heroic? Do you really need to ask?

Take a walk around your neighborhood and see if the same thing isn't true for you where you live. There are everyday heroes everywhere lifting burdens, lightening loads and looking overwhelming adversity squarely in the eye and spitting. Their names may not show up in a search of the online world, but these folks do show up where it counts: in the home, the neighborhood and the community, making the real world a better place.

So help me Google.

~ Joseph B. Walker ~
<ValueSpeak@msn.com>
Copyright © 2012

Joseph Walker began his professional writing career as a staff writer for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, eventually becoming that newspaper's television and live theater critic. Since 1990 he has written a weekly newspaper column called ValueSpeak, which has appeared in more than 200 newspapers nationally. His published books include How Can You Mend A Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World for Deseret Book, The Mission: Inside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Warner Books and three ghost-writing projects.   To read more by Joseph B. Walker please go to www.josephbwalker.com.
[ by: Joseph B. Walker Copyright © 2012 ( ValueSpeak at msn.com ) - {used with permission} ]

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