Almost everyone has a hero. As a child, it might be a crime-fighter like Spiderman. Later, it might be a sports star or seemingly indestructible movie character.
Away from the spotlight of the big screen and stadium full of cheering fans, there is another type of hero who quietly pledges his life to serve his fellow men and country. He leaves all that he has - his family, his home, his career - to fulfill his duty. He doesn’t complain or try to pass off his responsibility because he knows what needs to be done to preserve our nation and our freedoms. His friends trust him with their lives because he is loyal and brave. He doesn’t back down when the going gets tough. He performs his duties with precision and honor. He is trained to fight, but he doesn’t go around looking for trouble. He loves his family, his friends and his country, and he is willing to put his life on the line for them. He doesn’t ask for re-cognition and applause, but he deserves it. He is a soldier.
My uncle is one of these soldiers. Growing up, I always wanted to do
whatever he was doing. Even though I was just a kid and he was a cool high-school boy, he went out of his way to involve me in his activities. He took me dragging in his big red truck with the windows down and music turned up. He took me for rides on his motorcycle and in his dune buggy, and when I got older, he took me hunting. I thought he was my hero because we had fun together. Then one day he got a phone call, and within the month he was off to war. That’s when I knew he was my hero.
I saw him quietly box up his belongings, make arrangements for his business to be taken care of, and report for duty. He left the peace and beauty of his home for a foreign land of heat, sand and wind. He went to help free people from oppression and keep terrorism away from American soil. He went to give people hope.
You haven’t seen him on television or in the theater. His name is not in big letters on the back of his jersey, but in small letters over his heart. The screams he hears do not come from cheering fans. He is not Superman, yet he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is my hero.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.