Guest Post: A Real American Hero

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With Memorial Day approaching, KBC 1st Vice President Tom James, writes this guest post honoring his father:

I recently had the privilege of honoring my dad, a Vietnam veteran, with a brick in the courtyard of the Warren County courthouse. My dad is a real life American hero!

Heroes today are not ballplayers who can hit a baseball 500 feet or dunk a basketball to win a title. Heroes are certainly not movie stars who might “play the part” of a hero. Men and women who bravely serve their country and protect freedoms here and abroad are the real heroes. Those freedoms are especially precious to us as people of faith.

I have seen pictures of Americans celebrating the return of WWI and WWII veterans. But I also watched firsthand as Vietnam veterans returned home and often were not given the thanks they were due from what should have been a grateful nation.

I’m reminded of a story I read about Babe Ruth, who hit 714 home runs during his baseball career. Playing against the Reds in one of his last major league games before retirement, Babe, no longer as agile as he had once been, fumbled the ball hit to him and then threw wildly. In that inning alone his errors were responsible for most of the five runs scored by Cincinnati in the game.

As Babe headed toward the dugout at the end of the inning, a crescendo of booing reached his ears. Just then a boy jumped over the railing onto the field. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Without hesitating, Ruth picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet, patting his head gently.

Suddenly there was no more booing. In fact, a hush fell over the entire park. In those brief moments, the fans saw two heroes: Babe, who in spite of his dismal day on the field still cared about a little boy; and the small lad, who cared about the feelings of another human being. Both had melted the hearts of the crowd.

Many booed the Vietnam veterans as they returned. I didn’t understand that as a little boy whose dad went not once or twice but four times, fighting for the freedom of people halfway around the world. But while these brave men and women returned to a chorus of jeers from those they served, I will always be the child who grabs hold of the leg of his father with great pride and says, “Dad, you are a hero in my book no matter what those in the crowd may say! Thank you dad…maybe not from a grateful nation, but definitely from a proud son!”

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