Growing up, we often imagine a hero wearing a cape, moving faster than a speeding bullet, or climbing walls with the ease of a spider. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that a hero can be a person you see everyday in the most normal of circumstances. I did not realize until after I'd grown out of childhood that my hero was one of those everyday people: an ordinary man who performed extraordinary feats.
Dad was a firefighter for as long as I can remember. He began as a paramedic/volunteer firefighter after coming home from the Vietnam War. He rapidly achieved the position of District Chief, acquiring his own station and crew, spending many hours at the station and on call according to what the position of Chief called for. Sometimes family outings and dinners were interrupted by the call for help, but as busy as Dad was, and as many times as outings were interrupted, he never regretted his choice of career.
When I was a teen, Dad gave me the opportunity to discover the reason he chose firefighting over all other possibilities. On the rides along, he took every possible opportunity to teach me what he thought I should know. At a car crash, he helped me realize that without a seat belt, the driver would certainly have been worse off. At a house fire, he showed me the total destruction a blocked flue and lack of preparation can cause to a home. He showed me that even with an interrupted dinner outing, you still show up, you still do what you can, because that person hit by the car will someday thank you for saving his life.
The rides along were few, but even without those, Dad still helped me realize what it means to make a difference in the life of someone else. Dad may be considered a hero by the little boy pulled from the swimming pool and given the breath that allowed him to continue living as his parents hoped. The call was not Dad's, was not even in his district, but he heard the call for help and was right around the corner, not hesitating, only caring. Allen, another little boy, may also have considered Dad and his crew heroes had Allen lived; but Dad and his crew can be considered heroes for leading a rescue thought impossible ans giving Allen a chance even though he had been under ice cold water 90 minutes waiting to be found.
The feats he performed and the lives he saved also made a difference to him, helped him keep going even with the chance of failure, showing us that a hero is also a human. The man hit by the car credited Dad for saving his life. Dad often told us of helping the boy pulled from the swimming pool, his demeanor showing the confidence of a job well done. He also could not fight back the emotion on hearing the news of Allen losing the fight for life six weeks after being pulled from the water. I knew then that Dad would not give up caring, whether he was still employed as a firefighter, or elsewhere.
Heroes sometimes do fall, or retire, as I saw when Dad was forced into retirement due to health issues many years into his career. He never gave up caring, later spending more than a year in Alabama as a Coast Guard Reservist on Katrina cleanup, telling us of the devastation and destruction. Over time, I have realized just the kind of hero Dad is, what he has taught me. He has taught me what it means to care about those I do not know, to help those that need it, and to never give up even with the chance of failure. These are lessons we should all have a hero to teach us.
Submitted by Anonymous
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