Sometimes You do not Recognize a Hero

Sometimes you do not recognize a hero when you first met him. I know I didn't.

18 years ago I was doing home day care and trying to figure out why every psycho kid in the neighborhood was spending time at my house when the ultimate psycho kid came to stay.

At the age four he had more gumption and courage then children three times his age, and enough aggression to hold his own with any of them and then some.

He and Bear went to first grade together. Bear was a natural target. Sometimes he would use Bear as bait and then beat up any kid who took him up on it. He absolutely loved to fight and would always defend the underdog, even if he had started the whole thing.

After first grade we started home schooling and I gave up day care but the boys still ran into one another on occasion.

When they were 10, He told Bear that if you kissed a girl and grabbed her butt at the same time, she would love you forever. I am fairly certain that they had not yet put this to the test.

He joined the Marines right out of high school. We were so proud of him. When we heard he had been sent to Iraq we prayed for his safety, but somehow it never crossed our minds that he would not be coming home, not alive anyway.

At the visitation all the little artifacts of his life were spread out; fishing gear, photos, a small book shaped like a sheep, they made them in first grade I still have Bear's; a Freddy Kruger doll, he always wanted to play Freddy out in the yard. What other four year old even knows who Freddy Kruger is? I almost regret that I never let him, would it really have hurt anything to let him, just once?

I watched my sons as they pased by the casket. I realized that men carry grief along their jaw line.

His dad held Bear, when his own heart was breaking he reached out to comfort my child.

At the funeral the minister said that he and his friends had been studying the scriptures. One of their favorite passages was the 27th Psalm. A Psalm of confidence in the face of danger from your enemies.

Because I did not ever see him as a young man, in my heart he is always an active child, who only death could still. I know his family misses him deeply, but so do those of us who were on the periphery of his existence. The world is quieter, less exciting and more empty with out him.

Sometimes you do not recognize a hero, the first time you meet him. Sometimes heros are four year old boys fighting to come into their own.

PSALM 27

1 THE LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

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1 Response to “Sometimes You do not Recognize a Hero”


  1. 1 berk June 1, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Very touching. I especially liked the poetic feel of “in my heart he is always an active child, who only death could still”. Well written.


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