Throughout 2006, I've invested a fair amount of time studying, reading, and learning what makes great men great. I've learned about Churchill and his bold defiance of Hitler and the victory of the Second World War. He laid down his life, health, and reputation for that conflict only to see it through and then turn around and announce the beginning of the next global conflict in his famous "Iron Curtain" speech. The unlikely Ronald Reagan put that forty year conflict to an end.
George Washington conquered Lord Cornwallis with his meager group of men, then took charge of the young country only to relinquish power as soon as the time was right. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson followed his example as servant leaders.
In more modern times, astronauts like John Glenn and Alan Shepard went to places unknown. Kennedy stood up to Khrushchev, and Giuliani stood up to terror.
Regardless of the time or place, there are two criteria that make a person qualified for the title of "hero":
- Choosing to do something courageous for a noble cause
- Being a worthy role model for someone else
Lenin was courageous, but his potential heroism is null because his bravery was not for the benefit of a noble cause. Custer's so-called courage could be called into question. Many have modeled themselves after the role of an immoral or unkind parent, making them no worthy hero at all to the people who needed them most.
Many have even inferred heroism on my wife and I for surviving the terrible challenge into which we have been placed (which was the original inspiration for this post). We do not qualify as heroes; we did not choose our circumstance. I mean to say that we do not qualify as heroes in the first sense. I hope we do--or can at least begin to--in the second.
For today, and many to come, I will be content to enjoy the lives of Churchill, Grant, Washington, and Reagan. Truman, King, and, of course, Christ will grow in my heart's admiration...and as examples. I hope I've learned something.