Nick Grogan Scholarship
What Does the Word Hero Mean to You?
There is no single definition for hero. There is not one quality that defines a hero. Like a recipe, a hero is filled with ingredients. Whether your hero is a firefighter, a policeman, a doctor, a soldier, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend, he or she will be leader filled with great character. Add ability and enormous skill. Add great strength and courage. Add determination and patience. Add selflessness and humility. Include an intense passion and concern for others. These impressive qualities are just some of the ingredients necessary to make a hero.
Examples of heroes include Martin Luther King, whose efforts on behalf of civil rights helped to desegregate America; Oscar Schindler, a German spy, who was credited for saving the lives of over 1,200 Jews during World War II; all the firefighters and police officers who saved thousands of lives during the attack on 9/11; my cousin, Josh Misiewicz, who lost both of his legs fighting for our country in Afghanistan; my dad who, as a firefighter, jumped into Lake Michigan to save a family whose car went in to the lake; my teachers who work tirelessly and inspire me to be the best that I can be every day; my parents who work hard every single day so they can provide for me and my education. The heroes in this world are endless and all around us.
Some heroes are more obvious than others. I often think about a story that I once heard about a man that was walking along a beach that had thousands and thousands of clams that had washed ashore. As he walked along, every few steps he bent down, picked up a clam, and threw it back into the ocean. Someone had been watching him and approached him and said, “What are you doing? There are so many clams here. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The man threw the clam that he had been holding into the ocean and replied, “I made a difference to that one.” This is what a hero is to me; someone who makes a difference. We all have the potential to be heroes and change and improve the lives of those around us. Whether they save one life or thousands of lives, or whether they improve one life with a kind word, an act of kindness, or a positive encouragement, they are all heroes. They are all inspiring.
Some heroes are famous for the monumental acts that they perform. Some heroes are quietly going about their daily lives and doing their jobs well. However you define a hero, in all cases, they are men and women of integrity and character who use the gifts and talents that they have been given to save or help others. Their truly altruistic and selfless acts, whether big or small, make them heroes. Unfortunately, not every hero receives a medal or the recognition that they deserve for their actions. However, all heroes, in their own way, change lives for the better. Sometimes being a hero means just doing the right thing. I may never receive a medal, save thousands of lives, or cure a disease, but I will always be the best that I can be. I will use my talents and my strengths. I will always try to be as patient, compassionate, strong, and as courageous as I can be. I can only hope that someday someone will call me a hero too.