Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Company of Heros

I grew up in the company of hero's. My father and four of his brothers served in combat zones during the second world war. There was always something mysterious about my hero's. I knew that my dad fought in the Pacific against the Imperial Japanese. But he was slow to talk about what he experienced. I do remember as a child of about ten sitting on the floor, with my brothers and sisters, asking dad about the war. He told us of a couple of instances during his time in New Guinea and the Philippines. On one occasion an enemy plane was shot down as it tried to machine gun his camp. The plane crashed less than a hundred yards from him. He also talked about helping some fellow soldiers who were suffering from severe dysentery.

What I learned later, he never told us, was, he paddled a dugout canoe for many miles to get the soldiers to an aid station. His action saved their lives. It is hard to imagine today what that scene must have been like. He received a commendation for his actions. Later I learned he suffered from cerebral malaria, which would haunt him for some time. Since I had malaria as well, I well know what he went through. More men in his division died of disease than of combat wounds. As with thousands of soldiers his feet were terribly infected with jungle rot. All of this he talked very little about.

The mark of a real hero is they always deflect attention. My father, like thousands of hero's, down played his actions and elevated those of his friends. He never wanted attention for what he did because he knew he was fortunate to have survived when thousands did not. Now, my father was not without his faults. Hero's are real men and women, prone to all of the problems and failures of mankind. He carried with him scars that would affect his adult life. All hero's have feet of clay, ask any of them. One of the iconic figures that raised the flag on the island of Iwo Jima died a broken alcoholic.

We are hurting for real hero's today. There have been some remarkable stories in the recent times of real hero's. Not sport stars that are paid millions to show off their talents. Not actors and actresses that live rich and lavish lives because people plunk down money to watch them. They are not hero's. They may be idols in a world that seems screwed up, but hero's, no. A few stories of our men and women who are protecting our liberties today are trickling out into the public. Hero's, men and women who put aside fear and even logic, to do what their spirit tells them is the right thing to do.

There are real hero's around us. Remember they will never tell you how brave they were, how they overcame fear and did the remarkable.

No comments:

Post a Comment