I was elbow deep in flour and my mind kept going back to the question what does it mean to be an American Hero?
What does a hero look like?
Webster defines it as:
A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
A person who is greatly admired
When I picture an American Hero I see Eric, at different ages, in different places, facing different challenges from different decades. Eric has always been an American Hero for as long as I have known him, even before he raised his hand and took that oath.
Back when we were both young and innocent is when I first saw the makings of a hero in Eric. I was all of 14 and there was an older high school boy who had made it his lifelong mission to torture and abuse me. I had asked for help from every adult I knew, I had begged our principal not to allow him to come down to the middle school. No one could keep him from harassing me. That was, until I met Eric, mind you he is not an adult he was all of 17 but he found a way to make him stop. It was in that moment that his character was revealed to me. He stood unafraid and ready to protect me. I don’t know how he did it but he did what every adult had failed to do, he protected me.
So it should not have surprised me several months later to find out he had once again decided to stand in the way of harm and protect not only me but every one of you. My young love signed up for the military, he would serve his time in Germany, Iraq, and Georgia. It was during this time that our love was tested, for any young couple to wait 2 years to see each other is never easy. I will never forget the moment I watched him walk off that plane tired and battle weary from Iraq. He was different but my heart was finally home and I knew that for as long as I would live my heart would rest with him.
I have had the honor to be an observer in the life of a military man. I have watched him face the demons that only one who has fought in a war could face. I have watched as he inspired our nephew, not just by his service but by the fact that he lived by the oaths he had taken, he was a man of his word and honor was something that ran through his veins. I have watched in humble brokenness as he held and cried with his sister for a son, an American Hero who would never come home. Eric was not just Seth’s uncle in those moments he was his brother in arms. Never have I been more in awe of this man than I was in those moments.
What is an American Hero?
In my case it is a boy who became a man, a man who became a soldier and a soldier who became a father. It is a man who has spent his life in service. His uniform is no longer camouflage brown or green, he now wears a suit but his job is still the same. It is his job to protect people he does not know, he takes this just as seriously now as he did in the desert. He is the one who will carry any burden, he keeps his word, his honor is without question, he is not perfect but his heart is good. He continues to give to this nation by raising another strong generation of men who know what it really means to be a man. He teaches them it is in their gentleness where they will find their greatest strengths, that doing the right thing will never be easy but that honor is all you have at the end of the day. So while he may no longer serve in the military he will always be an American Hero.
He is the guardian at the ready, we are safe
Eric’s sister sang this song when Eric came back from Iraq. Even when I hear it sung now I hear it in her voice.