Who is your hero? Every kid gets this kind of question at some point. It has several incarnations, who do you want to be like if you could be anyone who would you be, and on an on. My first recollection of answering this question is indelible. At Lucas Congregational Church in Sunday school, I most likely was in first grade. So seven-ish. The Sunday school teacher started class with this question, “Who is your Hero?”
This question tickled me, I looked at the other kids sitting across from me, next to me, and then the person running the class, knowing my answer would blow their minds. That they would give pedestrian answers, and mine would be unusual and infallible. The teacher decided to go around the circle clockwise. The answers one would expect in such a setting came. Jesus, my mom, my dad, my grandpa, yawn.
“Daniel, who is your hero?”
This answer was going to make everyone else feel so silly for their snore inducing responses. I knew this was a hero, I saw what he was capable of first-hand, sitting next to my Grandma at Memorial Stadium. And to top it all off, he was an Angel. “My hero is REGGIE JACKSON!”
I saw him hit a homer against the Indians, an impressive feat.
“Your hero is Reggie Jackson, why?”
That’s not something I should have to explain, I mean, he had his own candy bar. So, clearly, this simpleton required educating. So I explained. “He has his own candy bar, he hits home runs, he won world series, and he’s the best ballplayer ever. I saw him hit three home runs.”
Non-plussed, the teacher sighed and asked the child next to me, “Who is your hero?”
For a second, I contemplated why my response elicited such a lukewarm response. I thought about Jesus, I loved Jesus, he died for my sins, and he seemed really nice. My dad was great, but I never saw him smash the ball with that kind of power. I did see him hit several whiffle ball home runs in my grandmother’s back yard over her flower garden, but never against the Indians. Reggie Jackson, on the other hand, had just smashed one over the wall in Cleveland. My grandma was great, too, but she was happy when the Angels lost to the Indians 10-4. She didn’t like me cheering for Reggie Jackson, so she couldn’t be my hero. Without a doubt, she was not going yard anytime soon.
It’s an interesting question. Who is your hero? In my youth, I valued the spectacle over the mundane. My view has shifted somewhat, the real heroes never seek adulation, they do the right thing without thought of the damage it may cause them. They go to work, they sacrifice in silence so others may advance themselves. They share when they have nothing to give. They love when they have no reason to do so. They are in all our lives and go unsung too much. Who is your hero? It’s not Reggie Jackson, it’s someone closer than you think. It’s someone who goes without so you don’t have to. Who is your hero?