I’ve seen the word “hero” a lot this week. The one that bothered me the most was the term “hero” being applied to Ray Lewis, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. ESPN and others had used the term over the past week in association with Lewis and the Super Bowl win by the Ravens, calling out Lewis for his “inspiring” leadership. Lewis was charged with 2 counts of homicide back in 2000 before a plea deal (Lewis testifying against those with him at the time) was made and the charges were dropped. A hero? Given his past alone, I’d have a very hard time using the term. I’m sorry, but even if the man has led an exemplary life off the field, I find it very hard to equate accomplishments on the football field with the term “hero”.
So what does constitute a “hero”? In the past few months, we’ve come into contact with a woman who will never receive any accolades, never hear the term “hero” applied to her. She teaches my son piano, coming to our house once a week for a half-hour lesson. How is a piano teacher a “hero”?
Over the past few months I’ve heard her personal story. She and her husband have four children, all adopted from overseas, all of whom have special needs or health problems. In the past few years, her husband has developed Alzheimer’s. With all of the health challenges facing her family, she teaches 7 days a week, working very long hours as a lone source of support for her family. With all of the adversity facing her, she’s doing everything she possibly can for her family. That’s a hero.
Recently, her car broke down. Given that she teaches piano onsite at people’s houses, a lack of transportation is a big set back. Given the needs of her family, money is incredibly tight, and she wasn’t sure how she could afford to get a new car. In stepped a local attorney. After hearing her story, the attorney called the piano teacher and told her to meet them at a local car dealership. The dealer and the attorney showed her a very nice van, with the attorney telling her that they thought this is the type of transportation she needed. The dealer asked what she thought she could afford. Given expenses for her family, the answer was “not much”. The dealer and attorney talked for a bit and came back saying “we’ve got a deal for you”. The attorney decided to pay for most of the cost of the van. He obviously had no obligation to this woman. He had heard her story and just wanted to help. That’s a hero.
Two every day heroes, who certainly deserve more accolades than some guy with a sketchy past who won a football game.