Chaplain: How to Make a Hero

Editor's Note: This submission was (obviously) meant for distribution before Memorial Day. Our schedule of articles didn't permit publication until now (3 days later) but the message is certainly the same and just as strong.

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One Christmas my parents gave me a Creepy Crawlers Bug Maker kit. It was great fun. I could take this Mad Scientist's plasti-goop and make all kinds of creatures by simply squirting the goop into the special molds. You put the mold in the special oven and baked them. Then I could put stickers on them or paint them anyway I wanted.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could make heroes that easily? Obviously it would be more challenging than using the Mad Scientist's black goop and a baking mold. How do you suppose we would make one? What would be the secret formula that could transform a person from zero to hero like in the comic books? Perhaps we would require a person who wanted to become a hero to personally gather up specific items. The ingredient list might look something like this:

  • One tear from a Nile Crocodile.
  • Pull a tooth from a Great White Shark.
  • A cup of snow from the very top of Mount Everest.
  • Pluck a whisker from a roaring Siberian Tiger.
  • Collect a drop of lava from the center of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the world's largest active volcano.
  • Make Chuck Norris cry, and steal the tear from his cheek.
  • Add a tablespoon of blazing hot sauce for flavor, and stir vigorously.

There is no such thing as a chemical potion to make a hero. Even if there were, how would we know we were successful? How do we know a hero when we see one? Perhaps a better question is - what makes a hero?

There are many kinds of heroes. Our society honors heroes with awards for bravery and courage, among others. We salute their self sacrificing work in charitable contribution in our communities. Sometimes they are members of our own families. But, if you ask a person recognized as a hero if they are one, the answer will always be, "No." They don't think they have done anything special. This leads us to see one of the true ingredients of a hero - humility. A true hero doesn't look for personal recognition.

A Harris Poll was conducted in August of 2001 asked 1,022 people to "name people they thought of as heroes, without reviewing a list or having any names suggested to them." Overwhelmingly the number one answer was JESUS CHRIST. Several named their Father or Mother as their hero.

Many reasons were given for why certain people were heroes. Below are a handful of the most common reasons cited in no particular order:

  • Not giving up until the goal is accomplished
  • Doing what's right regardless of personal consequences
  • Willingness to risk personal safety to help others
  • Staying level-headed in a crisis

The tradition of recognizing heroes who died in combat stretches all the way back to the end of the Civil War. Soldiers who had fallen during the war were solemnly remembered. This started out as a Decoration Day, when the graves of those fallen would be adorned in recognition of their service. Memorial Day was expanded in the United States after World War I, and has come to be the day when those who died during military service.

Memorial Day is observed once a year on the last Monday in May. A resolution was passed in December of 2000 regarding this national holiday. It was called the "National Moment of Remembrance." This resolution asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps."

A certain widow woman was brought to the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. He was told she had lost her five sons during the Civil War. Later it turned out she had lost two sons, but the eloquence of his letter to her remains a great example to us. It reads,

Dear Madam:
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

(As quoted from

The list of reasons cited above to consider someone a hero most certainly fit our brave men and women who have given their all while fighting to protect our Country and our freedom. Read over the list again.

Do you want to know how to make a hero? Ask a veteran. But, before you ask -

  • Shake their hand,
  • Look deep in their eyes,
  • And thank them for their service.

When you do, you may just get your answer without ever having to ask the question.