Smith is married and has a young son. Smith’s wife, Jenna, says she has a hard time explaining to her young son just what happened to his daddy. While trying to describe her husband’s injuries has to be tough, I am ever so thankful she is not having to explain why daddy won’t be coming home.
One thing I know, however, is that Jason is a hero. No, not for being unfortunate enough to step on the IED, but for being willing to serve his country in a war-torn country such as Afghanistan in the first place, risking his life.
If you’ve read my columns before, you know how I feel about athletes being paid exorbitant amounts of money to play a game. Now, know this… it also riles me to call these same ball players heroes.
Heroes, as mentioned above, are men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis. Heroes are NOT movie stars or musicians or television actors.
Too often in today’s world we ascribe the term “hero” to people in those categories. A slugger hits 500 career home runs, and we call him a hero and idolize him. Lebron James wins an NBA championship, and he is a hero.
I have to ask: “Why?”
And more than half the time these athletes are not even someone we would want our kids to emulate.
As much as I admire Chipper Jones, I would never place him in a role as a hero. Same goes for Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth. Even the great Michael Phelps, with his plethora of medals, is not a hero.
Now, my friend Jim Hedrick, a former police officer and SWAT team member with the Chattanooga Police Department, is a hero.
For more than 25 years, Jim spent his daily life out there protecting the citizens of Chattanooga, knowing that each day could be his last. Now, Jim would be the first to tell you that he did not consider himself a hero, but he is humble like that.
Jim is working in Baghdad, putting his life on the line to protect others. And he is still a hero.
During my 20 years in the Air Force, I met many men and women who I considered heroes. Many of whom served in Vietnam and lived to come home to an ungrateful nation.
Thank goodness we as a nation have begun to give these individuals their due and to recognize them for the great sacrifices they made in fighting this unpopular military action.
I try to make it a habit to thank these people when I see them out wearing their veteran caps or vests. This past Memorial Day, I had someone come up and thank me for my service, and if I can make a fellow vet feel half as good as that made me feel, then my mission is accomplished.
We have many freedoms to be thankful for, and most are directly related to the willingness of our armed forces to fight and die for us.
Please, next time you see one of our veterans, thank them for their time spent serving our great country. Trust me, you'll make their day.
I need to add police officers and fire fighters to my list of personal heroes, as well. As a matter of fact, next time you see a police car, fire truck or ambulance racing to a call, stop and say a little prayer for them.
And even though they don't put their lives on the line, although I'm sure it sometimes feels like they do, teachers are definitely on my list of heroes. These gifted men and women are directly responsible for the caliber of our next generation, and we owe them a debt of gratitude, as well as a decent salary.
So, next time you watch a ballgame or some other athletic contest, appreciate the athletes for the gifts they have, but please don't refer to them as heroes. Save that term for those who put their lives on the line to protect us and keep us safe.
And if you need an ultimate hero in your life, try mine: Jesus Christ. He put His life on the line, as well.
As usual, God bless...
Dennis Norwood is a reporter for The Catoosa County News. He can be reached at 706-935-2621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.