By Michael Scully
What comes to mind when you think of the word "hero?" I'm guessing that for most of us, the names that come to mind might include a famous war legend, a skilled political leader, an inspiring religious figure, or a beloved actor/actress or athlete. Which leads to my next question: what is it that truly defines a hero/heroine?
Some might point to awards and achievements, such as enrollment in a hall of fame or recognition in a university's special place of honor. Surely, such merits are commendable and in most cases, well deserved. As a diehard Bills fan, I'm always inspired by the many names I see on the Wall of Fame at New Era Field and the memories of the players who have performed so well to gain this everlasting niche in our hearts and minds.
So while we all have our lists of well known "heroes," how about taking a moment to acknowledge the everyday, ordinary heroes that grace our lives in so many unacknowledged yet very profound ways?
In my own experience, there are so many amazing people that come to mind, and I'm guessing the same is true for all of us. I'll start with my loving wife, Marsha. In nearly 25 years of marriage and over 30 years together, she has been the very definition of devoted love and support for me, my best friend and yes, my soul mate. I love you, Marsha, with all my heart, and I'm so thankful to have you by my side, through thick and thin.
The next very obvious example of heroes for me are Mary and Jack Scully, my amazing parents. By their selfless love and sacrifice for my sisters and me, they personified in so many ways what it truly means to be an unsung, everyday inspiration to others. My dad served in the Marine Corps for 20 years and was in combat in Korea and Vietnam. His sincere love of country and strong faith in God were demonstrated in his daily life, along with a strong work ethic, and these values were imparted to my sisters and I day after day. Oh, and he also had a wicked sense of humor and never met a car, or any gadget for that matter, that he couldn't repair.
My wonderful mom lovingly faced the challenges of bringing up eight kids, often while my father was fulfilling his military obligations. Not only did she manage to do it splendidly, she also became for me the foremost role model that I could ever hope to emulate in my own life. She bravely fought through periods of adversity when necessary and, along with my dad, never sought any recognition or accolades for the priceless love and devotion which they freely gave myself, my sisters and all with whom they interacted.
In addition to my parents, sisters and many other family members, there are so many heroes who have enriched and continue to bless my life in countless ways.
Here's a hearty shout out to the many outstanding teachers, coaches, priests, nuns and fellow parishioners who have inspired me and given so much of themselves. Give it up for those we know who courageously face cancer and other physical and emotional challenges, and who so often show more concern for how their situation affects their loved ones than for their own selves.
Need more examples? How about that friendly cashier from whom you get your morning coffee, or the many acts of kindness from total strangers? And don't forget cops, firefighters, physicians, nurses, volunteers, caregivers, valued coworkers, special friends and neighbors – the list goes on and on!
Thanks to all of you everyday, ordinary heroes who have meant so much to me throughout my life. God bless you, and I hope that by some small measure of payback, I can try to be a hero as well to you and all whom I encounter.
Michael Scully of Williamsville is a retired social services worker who is appreciative of all the real heroes in his life.