Being true to ourselves is part and parcel with being true to our conscience. The brave are those who act instinctively on their conscience.
Consistently, heroes say they just did what needed doing. Whatever act of bravery they performed was just part of the job, just what they think anyone else would have done, just a natural response.
Consistently, heroes say danger to themselves wasn't as great a factor as the danger to others, that either they weren't afraid, or that they HAD to act despite fear, that they had no choice but to do what they did.
Heroes are just doing what they always do, when the daily task is small and mundane, when the job is ordinary and unnoticed.
You can be a hero without ever being called to risk your life. But you cannot be a hero without ever risking hurt, embarrassment or ridicule, without following your conscience in daily living.
There are a lot of heroes in our world. Most ordinary people are heroes of the mundane. As individuals, they are shunned by the press and the powerful; as a class, ridiculed; and it makes no more difference to the ordinary hero than the dark side of the moon. They live their lives, and do the job they find at hand, and when, in the course of that life and work, courage is required, they do what needs doing.
In today's military and today's wars, care in the mundane is as essential as in civilian life. The ordinary heroes of our Armed Forces face the same shunning and ridicule by the media and the posturing elitists as the ordinary hero of the workaday world but multiplied a hundred times. It makes no more difference to the military hero than the age of the world. They do their duty, and do the job they are given, and when in the daily course of events, courage is required, they do what needs doing.
I have three sons, heroes all, each in his own way.
Nicolas has owned his own home since he was 24 - with a conventional mortgage he can afford, and growing equity. He is engaged to marry Lani in the Fall - he waited until he found his perfect match. He made sure his pets, full sized dogs, understand that "all humans are Alpha". He appreciates history and loves his family deeply. When he visits, he takes care of "honey do" tasks, and he gladly does any projects I ask him for. Nick is a good neighbor, a loyal friend, a caring son and a responsible man: an ordinary hero who is not so ordinary after all.
When Devin fell in love with Sandy, they had an early wedding to set a good example for her three children and his son. He did his part to fit the household comfortably together without drama. He remodeled our bathroom this winter. When I asked him to come install a new countertop, he decided we needed a full set of new cabinets, and he's building those now. Devin proudly adopted Sandy's daughter B., giving her the assurance of unconditional love by a father who chose her: an ordinary hero with an open heart.
Ethan came of age with September 11th, and enlisted two years later, turning 21 as a recruit. I was nervous about it but it turned out he was born for the Corps. He earned a Meritorious PFC rank during boot camp, and told me the day he graduated: "This is what I want to do. I want to come back here and be a drill instructor." After completing his MOS, he was stationed at 29 Palms, then deployed the first time to Iraq in August 2004 with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Wolfpack.
And so a Marine went to war: an ordinary hero, who did his job and looked after those beside him, for two tours of Iraq, came home, and re-enlisted when the time came.
Now, DI Sgt Ethan D. Arguello turns recruits into Marines.
He never fails to seek out older veterans for the privilege of shaking their hand.
And he never fails to remember the heroes of D Company, Third LAR Wolfpack who gave their lives but never gave up:
Sgt. Christian B. Williams, a 27-year-old from Winterhaven, Fla.
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, a 28-year-old from Wolf Creek, Mont.
Cpl. Adam A. Galvez, a 21-year-old from Salt Lake City.
Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield, a 19-year-old from Clovis, Calif.
Lance Cpl. Jason Hanson, a 21-year-old from Forks, Wash.
Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman, a 21-year-old from Bend, Ore.
Lance Cpl. Shane P. Harris, a 23-year-old from Las Vegas, N.M.
Seaman Chadwick T. Kenyon, a 20-year-old from Tucson, Ariz.
The heroism is in the willingness. It's in the doing. All those who lay their own lives on the line and pick up the torch from these who have fallen are also heroes. And they are there. Look around:
They keep enlisting and serving with gratitude, despite years of concerted media campaigns intended to disparage and demoralize our fighting forces.
They keep enlisting and serving with courage, despite trumped-up charges against their own, inexplicable leniency toward the enemy, and overblown reactions to freak occurances so rare as to be statistically invisible.
They keep enlisting and serving with pride, despite the violent apartheid of the elite barring them from "prestigious" college campuses.
They keep enlisting and serving with honor, despite politicians who abandon our allies, cast aspersions on innocent patriotic citizens, and refuse to call the enemy by name or describe his brutality honestly.
They keep enlisting and serving with compassion, despite the deaths of friends and comrades, despite seeing those they love maimed, despite knowing they may come home forever changed.
Why? Because they love us, and they love the United States of America, her Flag, her Constitution.
This is what heroes do.
Don't be deceived by the nattering of cowards, the counsel of the unwise, the taunts of bullies: The United States of America is not declining, and it shall not perish from the earth.
As The Greatest Generation goes homeward to that bright land to meet their Father and Savior, we mourn their absence from our lives - but we do not mourn for our Country.
If these men and women taught us one thing it is this: America's Greatest Generations are still ahead. Wave after wave for a thousand generations, each as courageous as the best of their ancestors and God and their own consciences can make them.
These young men and women today are our Greatest Generation.
Their sons and daughters will be our Greatest Generation.
The sons of their sons and daughters of their daughters will be our Greatest Generation.
. Marine Ethan Duncan Arguello Midland Texas