There is a TV series named "Heroes" which I have never seen. Sports personalities are sometimes called Heroes. Hollywood wimps are sometimes called Heroes. They are not. Never were. Never will be. We have let the media and glitz machines beat it into our collective psyche that they are but my years over here have taught me they are not. I love sports and am rabid about baseball and hockey but at the same time I just have the feeling that all the hype, hyperbole, and hoopla surrounding the games are not necessary. I look at all the Barry Bonds ink and teletype I see and think to myself, "What difference will this make? Just how does this change anything?"
There are heroes out there. They live among us. They are in little places all over America and all over the world. I am blessed to have met some of them and to call some of them "Friend." Chris, Butch, Vic, Mike, Joe, Jeff, Vaughn, Fritz, Joshua, and Jerry are all heroes. Yeah, they have last names but I don't use them. They are known to me by those names because they are my friends. They became heroes in places like Vietnam, Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq. They had all the spine and inner qualities that were needed to be heroes and these episodes provided the time and place for them to become that. You have never heard of them because they are quiet professionals just doing their jobs. They are extraordinary men doing an extraordinary task in extraordinary ways and damn well should be recognized.
One hero I am proud to know has finally been recognized. I know John. I met him in 2004 when he lived on my post. I knew he was in action and had a bad day but I didn't know the details until today. Please read the dispatch and understand that heroes are teachers, firemen, cops, and National Guardsmen. Where can you find them? You can find them on weekends at any NG armory in America. Common men with a common purpose for the common good is what the National Guard is all about.
I used to make fun of Arkansas but I don't anymore. I am proud of the fact that I know many of the heroes of the 39th Brigade Combat Team, Arkansas National Guard. They protected me, I took care of them. We sheltered in bunkers during incoming barrages, ate together, built shelters together, laughed together, worked together, trained Iraqis together, treated wounded Iraqis together and became friends. They awarded me the honor of being an "Arkansas Traveler" and took me into their confidence. I gave them back dignity and respect.
I have seen a lot of units pass through. Some are good, some are not. Some are full of esprit d'corps, some are not. The 39th is full of common men who are what everyone in the Army wants to be. They are Warfighters. They protect you regardless of whether you live in Arkansas, Texas, California, Canada, or even Iraq. They are called "National Guard" but what they really are is more like what the ancient Spartans were. Every citizen a soldier who is called upon in time of war or time of need. Much like the real Spartans at Thermopylae (Not the movie version) they train constantly for something they hope never comes. They just go when needed to do what they have to do to protect those at home. They should really be called "International Guard." No matter what they are called by nomenclature I know what I call them. I call the Heroes. They are and I am proud to know them.