Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

We could all use more heroes


June 19, 2019

“My heroes have always been cowboys,

still are, it seems.

Sadly, in search of, and one step in back of,

themselves and their slow movin’ dreams.”

— Sharon Vaughn, songwriter

SANTA ROSA — Heroes are easy to find but hard to keep.

Especially when we’re young, we need our heroes, or positive role models if you prefer, as examples of what courage, sacrifice and success are all about.

We typically start with our parents, superheroes in our young eyes, while our imaginations gravitate toward mythical beings like the Man of Steel, the Dark Knight or, yes, that proverbial cowboy riding through a time when right was right and wrong was wrong and what you did, not what you said, was who you are.

Parents and action figures are just the beginning of a lifetime of heroes, role models and mentors we meet up with — if we’re lucky.

I had several heroes when I was growing up. My dad was chief among them. I always knew that he loved me unconditionally, but it was those times in which he was proud of me that really inspired me. When he expressed pride in what I had done, I felt strong, like I could be a better man, and it made an indelible mark on my life.

He was my first hero but certainly not my last.

Growing up I found other far-off heroes in fictional characters such as Superman and the Lone Ranger on television, while other niche celebrities like Bill Montgomery on the Razorbacks’ football field and Jerry Kramer of Green Bay Packers fame (who wrote one of the few books I read as a child) inspired me to be bigger and stronger, to try and be a hero in my own way.

Then there were artists and newsmakers, like John Denver and his lyrical reverence for nature, Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent resistance to injustice, and Jesus Christ for his divine selflessness and love for all of humanity, who made me want to serve the greater good.

Serving the greater good is what a true hero does, and there are plenty of examples of men and women who have done just that. Here in the Southwest, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez and even more controversial historic figures like Poncho Villa are still heroes to many, villains to others.

John Kerry and the late John McCain are two contemporary examples of political figures who dedicated their lives to serving their country with honor. Contrast them with some of the political ilk that runs our country these days and you can get a glimpse of how exceptional true heroes really are.

However, everyday heroes are often found much closer to home. They’re the dad who works all day and then coaches a Little League team into their nights, or the mom who works multiple jobs and somehow finds time to create a loving, nurturing home for her children. Or the grandparents who step up to raise their troubled children’s children. Or a host of other rank-and-file givers who are helping to raise the next generation of heroes.

Of course, all real-life heroes are flawed human beings. They’re not always consistent in their values, or right in their thinking, but they are still working for the greater good. Even if they fall, or we simply outgrow them, they push us to be better, and inspire us into action.

That’s what heroes do. We could use more of them.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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