As I pondered what to share with my readers this Monday, which here in the United States is a Memorial Day holiday where we honor our military men and women for their service past and present, I was reminded of a Facebook post I read on the London military serviceman slaughtered in a terrorist attack there last week. The poster called the man a hero, but was argued with by a commenter who claimed military personnel didn’t want to be called heroes. Yet that term is used all the time by civilians and even their own superiors as they recognize these men and women’s sacrifices.
So what are heroes, really?
This is a term that’s become commonplace to me and other romance writers because its the designation we use for our protagonists. Heroes and heroines are our main characters and we refer to them as such even after they have their own names. We use it in plotting, discussions, classes, and even advertisements (hunky hero pics, anyone?).
But I think, at its core, the meaning of the title “hero” is the same. Far from the sexy man cliche, truly formed, well-written romance heroes are men willing to risk everything to be with and protect those they love. Sometimes they may risk their lives, but other times they may be risking lifelong beliefs and behaviors that have been at the core of their existences, putting their emotional lives on the line for something more powerful than themselves.
Here in the US, our military personnel, law enforcement, rescue and medical personnel put themselves at risk every day — for what? Low pay, continually dwindling benefits, and often times a country that doesn’t seem to value what they risk on their jobs. No, I firmly believe most of them show up because they believe in what they’re doing and believe its worth the risk. Whether they ever take a bullet is irrelevant. Risking themselves (health, life, family) for something they believe in is heroic.
I have friends in law enforcement, uncles and a father who served in the military, and have lived long-term in 2 military towns. None of those close to me have died in the line of duty, but I still consider their service to our towns and our country heroic.
And isn’t the fact that they don’t consider themselves heroes make them that much more so in our eyes?
Share with us what hero you want to honor today!