When asked to conjure up descriptions of a hero or heroism, many people would imagine similar scenes. The firefighters pulling a family from a burning building, a soldier saving his platoon from certain death, rescue workers pulling a stranded mountain climber from a precarious ledge, and the Knights of the Round Table saving a damsel in distress, are all examples of the "common" hero. Many people display heroism in everyday life but are rarely recognized either by their peers or by the media.
Heroism can be traced back in time as early as mythology has been present. People of that era felt a need to worship super-beings who could solve their problems. Current examples reflecting that age are evident on television today. Both "Hercules" and "Xena: The Warrior Princess" are ever present to save the peasants from the evil and cunning warlords. Mythological heroes had their deeds exaggerated as the stories were passed by word of mouth from person to person. Storytellers have always felt a need to liven up their stories and as they passed them from generation to generation, the stories continued to grow.
Everyone knows what heroism is, but describing it can be difficult. Gallantry, valor, bravery, and courage are all traits normally associated with heroism. For the people who risk or sacrifice their own lives in an acts of selflessness, these words are accurate in describing heroism. Few would dispute that a person who pulls another from a burning flipped-over car ready to explode does show heroism.
The news media is always looking for acts of heroism as they make for captivating news. Just recently, a fourth grade boy grabbed the wheel of a school bus after it was involved in an accident. This boy may have saved the lives of the children loaded on the school bus by preventing the bus from careening out of control. Because of the unusual circumstances of this incident, the media rightly focused on this child as a hero.
Many other forms of heroism do not fit this very succinct definition. The school teacher who has the rare ability to turn students around and prevent them from throwing their lives away is one example. Another example is the counselor who spends extra time and transforms a drug addict into a useful person in society. The doctor, who has the courage to stand up and yell...