Athletes aren’t heroes

Heroes.

Ask any child to name their hero and if they don’t select one or both of their parents, odds are it will be their favorite athlete.

While I admire those who have the incredible skill to hit or throw a 100 mph fastball, slam dunk a basketball or kick a 60-yard field goal, I don’t consider athletes as being heroes.

Rather, my heroes are those who daily put their lives on the line to make sure we can live in peace.

There were many heroes involved in the events surrounding the Boston Marathon, starting with those who ran to the aid of the victims of the bombs set off at the finish line.

It would have been easy -and safer -to run away, as some did.

It’s called self-preservation and it is a natural human instinct.

Yet, there are also those who have the courage to face danger -and their possible demise -because they feel it is their duty as a member of the human race.

Some -policemen and firefighters immediately come to mind -make it their life’s calling.

They elect to rush in where others fear to tread, putting their lives on the line in situations that most of us can’t imagine we ever would be involved.

It was great to see the residents cheer the law enforcement officers who brought an end to the terror in Boston.

It might well be the first time those dedicated public servants ever have heard the cheers of the crowd, something athletes get to enjoy on a daily basis.

But those who risk their lives for the sake of others don’t do so for applause. Rather, they feel it is their duty.

Yet, when they perform perfectly, they leave with nothing more than the self-satisfaction of a job well done.

One of the best interviews I’ve ever witnessed took place with the mayor of West, Texas, where the fertilizer plant exploded.

In addition to being the mayor, he also is a volunteer firefighter, which means when the fire broke out, he headed to the scene.

He lost several friends and colleagues.

He knows but for the grace of God it could have been him.

Can you imagine walking into a raging inferno knowing that there’s more than a scant possibility you won’t walk out?

I can’t. Yet, there are men who must be ready to accept that stark reality every day.

I once had a gas line at my home come unhinged and had a room quickly filling up with gas.

The volunteer firefighters not only got there in a rapid manner, but they also walked right into the situation and not only saved my house, but perhaps the homes and lives of my neighbors as well. You can’t repay those who perform such a task.

Yet those who do it don’t do it for the glory.

That’s why they, and not athletes, are my heroes.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com