A hero is the protagonist, or main character, who overcomes immense challenges to win the girl and save the world; whether it's on the gridiron, the court, the field, or even out in space. He must beat the bad guy, defeat the obstacles and push on no matter how bleak the outcome appears. He is the hero. That is what he does.
Hero is a word you hear everywhere. Sports figures are heroes. So are entertainers, scientists and businessmen. Anyone whose actions change the lives of others is a hero. Cops, firefighters and soldiers are obvious subjects for romance writers. The men come with their own mythology and code. They define heroism.
It's a word I've heard a lot this week. Three more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday - Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, Cpl. Dany Fortin and Cpl. Kenneth O'Quinn. The image of WO Brown's widow, Mishelle standing tall and proud as she called her husband, "My hero" has been all over the news media. A true military wife, she was as prepared as she could be for this eventuality. Her husband believed that he had no other choice in life than to protect and defend those who needed him to do so. In his civilian life he was a special constable with the Niagara Regional Police. In the military he was a reservist with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment.
Growing up military, the loss of every soldier is personal. We belong to a community that exists outside of borders, isn't hampered by distance or geography. It's a community that stands together, shoulder to shoulder and back to back, against all threats. While I've never agreed with a lot of where our troops go, they are my family.
When the call came, the men rallied to their fallen brother. They flew in from all corners of the globe to surround his family, his friends and each other. They took care to see he was carried home with respect and compassion. They gathered their grief close and banded together. Four van loads of men drove from the regiment to Trenton so that he came home to familiar faces. Fellow officers were on hand to ensure the police escort was made of guys he knew. People lined the Highway of Heroes to thank the three men for their service to our country.
Heroes. All of them. The people, faces twisted in anguish and grief, who put aside their politics to pay tribute to the three men. The men with red-rimmed eyes and rigid jaws who locked arms to carry the body of their friend. The mothers who stood tall and proud with roses and flags as they welcomed their sons home. The boys who held the salute while their young eyes followed their father's casket. The wives and girlfriends in their bright red scarves determined to stand strong; the friends and families who held tight despite the pain that overwhelmed them all; the ones who stood for hours in high winds to honour the men who passed below.
If heroes overcome adversity to win the day, each and everyone of those people did so this week. And will continue when Dennis finishes his journey home and is laid to rest.
Non Nobis Sed Patriae
Not for ourselves but for our country