Essays on the Theme of Heroism

The Man, the Myth, the Legend; My Hero

by Nathaniel Swaim from Charlotte, NC

When you ask someone who their superhero is, they'll probably say something on the lines of, “My hero is Superman or my favorite hero is Iron man. Well if you ask me, that’s not the case, because I'll say, “My hero is my grandpa…” Wait let me pause for a moment because you might be on the edge of your seat right now thinking, man this guy has a cool grandpa, he shoots lasers out of his eyes like Superman, he flies like Superman. Only, that's not the case, for he isn't your ordinary super hero, he's better than ordinary. He might not encounter crime or drive out aliens from different planets. He’s a real-life person with real-life heroic moments, my grandfather. Today in society, many people don't consider their parents or their teachers their hero. Most will think that, oh super heroes aren't a hero unless they have physical powers. Well, that's not true. I believe my grandpa is my hero and that's not because he can teleport or fly, but because of his generosity and selfless attitude towards others. There are real-life people who have real-life experiences of saving lives or helping others go through struggles. My grandfather is one of these people; he has a selfless attitude, an industrious spirit, and immeasurable courage. He is my hero, my real life hero.  

Dale Haden: this is my grandfather. He has what you might not say is power, but to me, it’s more than power. Even though he isn't perfect, his character is built up by his selfless attitude. He might not do everything for everyone, but he does enough for people to respect him. Having this selfless attitude gives him the title of a hero.

About 8 years ago, my grandfather asked our entire family if we wanted to go on a cruise or stay at a beach house for a week. We ended up going on a cruise that year and every year since then. He paid for the whole trip -- all the way down to the gas money spent on going to the port. All we had to do was show up. This year, I will be going on my 9th cruise, but, without my grandfather, I probably would have never had this experience. He could have easily used the money he spent on our trip for something he desired, concerning himself. However, what he wanted most was spending this memorable time with his family. In fact, my grandpa would often say, “This is why we do this. All of us sitting around this table sharing this experience, it’s priceless.” My hero, my grandfather, is one of a kind; he values others enough to sacrifice the things he has to provide joy for his family. Power comes with self-sacrifice; never did he pass up an opportunity to serve others.

An equally important heroic attribute I admire about my grandfather is his industrious spirit. To begin with, he started his career with only an associates degree, which is a 2-year span of college. He worked his way up from there and ended up becoming a safety engineer for the contracting company PCG. He was in charge of the safety department for the whole country! During this time, he achieved many safety awards within his corporation. This included awards from the National Safety Council, National Insulation Association, and American Society of Safety Engineers. This happens to be a very fierce competition across the nation. He was up against every other contracting firm in the United States. Like Usain Bolt at the top of his game, he pressed on to claim the title of having the best safety record of any company. He was well respected in his field and had people all over the country who would seek him out for help and advice. Overall, my grandfather is a very intelligent man in the field of safety and he never gave up, even when trials occurred. Due to this, he was highly respected, but also, he was able to retire early due to the hard work he put into his job. My grandpa was a very busy man and he persevered and accomplished much despite the trials he faced.  

Courage - the ability to do something that frightens one - was a trait that my grandfather constantly relied on, while on the battlefield. He lived one day at a time enduring a constant reminder of death for an entire year: one beat at a time hoping he’d survive. Every day, he went through the harsh drills and the unrelenting gunfire blasting all around, like fireworks. Here is the Vietnam War. He came to serve as an engineer, designing dirt roads, base camps, and the extensive site work for helicopter pads. This is what he did, working in the sweltering heat of the Vietnam jungle, under strict control. Before he went to the war, a General came to my grandfather and told him, “There are two types of people in Vietnam, those who are quick to react or those who are dead.” This advice rang through his mind continually, to the point that it kept him alive while he was there. As a final act of courage, he stood up to a Lieutenant. After the man ordered my grandfather to escort him into dangerous territory, he refused and said no. My grandfather only had three weeks left until he would come back home, and he didn't want to roll the dice, taking the chance of being killed. His courage helped him through and he finally made it: Yes, victory! But no… to his dismay, he came back hearing shouts of rage flowing from the nation. It was as if he was the target everyone was looking to shoot at. This wasn't the past where soldiers would come back and they would be society’s “Superman”. This was after Vietnam and no one wanted to see them (the soldiers). My grandpa finally made it through and ended up becoming a safety engineer. After the Vietnam War, living an ordinary life wasn't so easy for him. He never talked about the war until years after. Constantly he would be trapped with frightful thoughts racing through his head. Through it all he made it, not because he had superpowers, but because he was quite intrepid and never gave up.    

My grandfather may not wear a cape or a cool costume, but he does wear a selfless attitude, an industrious spirit, and immeasurable courage. All his life he's been able to show these traits in immeasurable ways. He may have wanted to give up at times, but he stood strong in the work he did. As a result of this, he’s impacted the lives of countless others, including mine. My grandfather will jokingly say, “I'm the man, the myth, the legend.” Well, he may not be the myth or the legend, but he is my hero, my real life hero.

Page created on 4/2/2019 9:04:15 PM

Last edited 4/3/2019 12:00:31 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.