“Real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” (John Wayne)

I never served in the military. When I was young it wasn’t a good idea to join the service because the Viet Nam war was raging. I remember the day I turned 18 and was eligible for the draft. I even remember my draft number. It was 184, which was high enough I didn’t worry too much about being drafted. I probably would have joined the Marine Corps if I thought I was going anyway,  mostly because of the stories my Dad told me about being a Marine. When he was 18, everybody joined the service because WW II was already underway in Europe and elsewhere. He always said if he was going to risk his life he wanted to be with other men who were equally committed to the cause. I guess that’s what Marines call “Esprit de Corps”. That goes hand in hand with the Marine Corps motto, the Latin “Semper Fidelis” or English  “Always Faithful”. All the Marines I have met in my life are very different from other servicemen. When they say “Once a Marine, always a Marine” they really mean it.

Today, I give credit to anyone who serves their country and that includes policemen, firemen, EMT’s and anybody who risks their lives to help others. I am sure every one of them has been scared to death and saddled up anyway. Where would we be if nobody answered the call? That willingness to risk all for the sake of others is remarkable and deserves the highest possible recognition. I’m not talking about awards but rather our undying respect. Self sacrifice is the most noble trait any human can have. It is also the most rare.

That’s probably why it sickens me every time a politician talks about courage or sacrifice of any kind. Unless they have risked all, their words are meaningless. I would love to see legislation passed that requires Congressmen to serve in the military or as policemen, firemen or rescue workers. I think anybody who has the power to send another  human being into harm’s way should have already walked in those shoes. I know I would never be able to make that decision. Life is too precious to make life-changing decisions without your own firsthand knowledge.

Fear does amazing things to humans. In some people it causes incredible heroism and in others incapacity. Courage, on the other hand, lifts everyone. My Dad told me stories of some the bravest men he knew. He talked about how they weren’t the biggest or most obvious men but rather guys who didn’t say much or just stayed in the background. It was more often the quiet, unassuming ones that answered the call and risked everything.  What that tells me is everyone is capable of being courageous, if they just try.

I think that’s why John Wayne was such an iconic actor. He exemplified real courage that everyone could identify with and believe in. We all need heroes and luckily they are all around us. They’re not athletes, or celebrities or politicians. Most likely they’re your next door neighbor or your cousin or your coach. People who saddle up in their own small ways every day with one thought in  mind. They plan to help as many people as they can each day. Those are the people we should look up to and be thankful for, not the stars. Frankly, no MVP has ever changed my life in any way whatsoever. The people I appreciate the most are the ones who went out in the ice storm to get my power back on or the firemen who knocked on my door at 4 A.M. to warn me about the house on fire across the street. If I haven’t said it before or often enough, those people are the real heroes who make the world a better place for all of mankind. Thank you for being ready, willing and able when it mattered most.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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