Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Ordinary Hero

I've always believed that every man wishes that he could be a hero. Even if only once, even if for just a minute, every man wishes the he could stand and be counted as the hero for a day.

Some men get the chance, some go looking for it, sometimes it finds the man it's looking for, and every now and again ordinary men become heroes, unintentionally, and without cause or fanfare. Ordinary men come together to do ordinary things, and in doing them, and doing them well, become heroes.

I'm sure if my grandfather was alive today and you asked him he would say he was no hero. I'm sure if you sat him down and reminded him of the plane crash, in December of 1968 he would have stories of men who, in his eyes, were far more deserving of praise then he. If you got him to say anything at all.

My grandfather's been gone for many years and it was only recently I learned of both the crash, and his involvement. He did nothing special, at least nothing he would have considered special. He merely left his home when called, and did what he knew how to do, and what he knew how to do was run phone line. He, and other Bell Telephone employees did what they knew how to do, they ran telephone line out to the crash site so that the rescuers could make phone calls when needed. Nothing dangerous, at least no more dangerous then riding through the woods on a snowmobile in 10 degree weather. Nothing he and his co-workers had not done a hundred times before. Yet in that simple, everyday, act he, and his co-workers, and every other man who answered the call for help became simple, ordinary, every day, heroes.

I doubt any of them left their homes that night hoping for praise, recognition, or adventure. I'm sure to a man they would have rather had that plane land safely, I'm sure to a man they would have rather been home with family, warm, and safe. Yet it is not what a man wishes that makes him a hero, it's what he does when he would rather not. It's going out in the cold, in the dark, simply because a friend, a neighbor, a policeman, or firefighter asked for help.

To a man, the very act of stepping out their front door made them all heroes.

To my grandfather, Kenneth Finlan. Even though I'm sure you would disagree with me, at least for a night, you were a hero.

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