We most often hear the word hero when there has been a tragedy or life threatening situation. On Memorial Day we honor the countless heroes in the military who have fought for our country. First responders to 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, Newtown Shootings, Boston Marathon etc. are among the heroes we hold dear.
The word ‘hero’ is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. It usually refers to those who have performed courageous acts for the sake of others.
That definition sheds light on another group of people as heroes in my mind. “Distinguished courage” is a marked ability to face fear, pain and danger. “Brave deeds” are those acts performed in the face of danger, fear and pain. What about the people who faced fear, pain and danger in their own lives and took action to protect themselves?
The men and women who gathered the courage to walk away from an abusive relationship; the brave souls who broke their silence of sexual abuse and found the strength to heal; those battered, silenced by shame, terrified of retaliation and yet courageous enough to put an end to abuse and say No More to their abusers—they too are heroes.
You may think because their bravery was to help themselves they do not count as heroes. Not so. For every story heard of a battered woman escaping her abusive man another victim gains the strength to run out the door. For every adult disclosing their childhood of sexual abuse another adult finds the courage to break their silence and take the path to healing. For every rape victim who comes forth and tells their story a survivor living in shame gathers the courage to seek help.
Those who have broken the silence of abuse are silent heroes. They will never know the lives they touched, the courage they lent, the example they became. We won’t read their names in the headlines or see them on a morning talk show, but they too are our heroes. They too are saving lives every day by the example they set.
Think about it. Who are your heroes? Not the obvious ones but the ones who’s courage gave you the courage to change your life? Share them here in the comments.
Today, Memorial Day, I salute all those in the military past and present. I thank the first responders to the many tragedies our nation has endured. But I also pray for the silent heroes who, by breaking their silence, opened the door for others to heal.
Thank you to the silent heroes in my life, Roberta