Recently, I have had occasion to answer this question, at least in my head, for many people. There have been a rash of events lately in the news where people are being hailed as heroes. Some of them accept the moniker, but the real heroes among them will not. Here are a few sure fire ways to spot a real hero in your midst.
Humility-From Nick Miele, who may have stopped the Clackamas Town Center Shooter from killing more people in December with his CHL, to Sheriff Tim Mueller from Linn County, OR real heros shun the term and insist they were just doing the right thing.
Embarrassment-Every real hero I have had occasion to meet (I have met many since I work with Veterans) has blushed when thanked for their heroic actions. They usually look at the floor and simply state “I just did what anyone else would do.”, not comprehending that if that were true-no one would be calling them a hero.
Desire to pass off the attention to someone, or something, else-Many of the heroes I have known have wanted to credit their training-be it law enforcement or military. They describe being “taken over” by their training and thrown into autopilot. I figure that they had to make the choice to submit themselves to that training-which involves personal risk-which makes them a hero in my eyes.
“Shrinking Violet Syndrome”-Whereas the braggart thrills in the spotlight, the real hero just wants their life to return to normal and for the spotlight to shine elsewhere.
In today’s media driven society, the term “hero” is sadly overused. I hope that the short list of qualities listed above will help you determine who should be hailed as a hero and who should be ignored. In my opinion, the real heros of today are the ones who have been there throughout time-the military, the law enforcement officers, the doctors and nurses and the firefighters who toil endlessly to protect and heal us. These heros save lives every day by simply doing their job, perhaps it is time to start thanking the real heroes in our midst.