The radio was on as we headed home from our last call. I was excited to hear ”My Heroes Have Been Cowboys”, one of my all-time favorites. Willie Nelson had performed this song in the early 1980’s in the movie “The Electric Horseman”. The song and the movie both lamented the end of the cowboy lifestyle in the West. So the song really isn’t about heroes. But we had recently watched the movie “American Sniper” and the whole idea of heroes was on my mind. What made a person a hero and whom would I include in a list of my heroes.
I always find it good to start with a definition: A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Who fit that definition for me? Someone like Chris Kyle portrayed in “The American Sniper” who went to war and risked his life for me and my family is a no-brainer choice for red necks like me. I have clients who have been very financially successful and have decided to share their skills and good fortunes by donating enormous sums of funds to improve the welfare of both humans and horses. They are on my list. I have a veterinary friend who is the type of person and veterinarian who I strive to be. He’s on my list. These are individuals you all may know or know of, and they may be on your list too.
But there is a larger group of people on my list who are probably not known by you but are just as important to me. There is the modest- income family who spend all their extra income and much time caring for a menagerie of unwanted animals. There’s the family that happily toil to care for special-needs children. There’s the large family who spend much time home schooling their many children. There is a farmer south of town who spent his whole life working his farm with a special reverence for the soil. There was the woman with a terminal disease who spent her last years helping others. All are my heroes.
Being someone’s hero may be easier than you think. I remember my first day as a new employee at Littleton Large Animal Clinic. While I was introducing myself to the staff one young woman came up to me with the biggest smile and recounted how I had been her hero when I saved her 4-H ewe when she was a little girl. I remembered working on animals at her family’s farm but I could not remember her ewe. She had not forgotten me or the very special thing I had done for her. I was just doing my job.. That reminded me how lucky I am to be a veterinarian and have the opportunity to do something special for a small child, to be her hero.
Don’t miss an opportunity to be a hero, to be someone special to another human being on a special day. Make the world a better place!