The True Heroes

  • In sports we throw around the term “Hero” a little too regularly.  

As fans we idolize our sports heroes and often grew up trying to imitate their golf swing, wrist shot, skating style or their batting stance.  

Unfortunately, our society continues this trend of looking up to athletes and celebrities.  As I reflect back to my childhood, the obvious hockey and baseball heroes were ever present.  

Personally, I was probably the biggest Oakland A’s fan in the world at that time.

I was fortune enough to meet the late great Ted Williams at his cottage when I was in Grade 8, and yes I was dressed up in my Athletics garb. My father, brother and I had waited for about an hour at his cottage before an old truck came barreling down the narrow driveway. 

The dust hadn’t settled before a towering figure jumped out of his truck and approached us. Ted was on a fishing expedition that morning and had fallen asleep on the bank of the river.  ‘The Splendid Splinter’ apologized repeatedly and was in a hurry to get all of his fishing supplies in from his truck and dropped a few things. 

Being in awe of this giant legendary figure, I bent over and passed him back all the items.

In that moment he looked down at me and said, ‘Oakland, what’s that, with a big smile.’ He invited us into cottage, all I can remember was the pictures he had hanging all around the cozy rustic cottage. We chatted for more than an hour and he signed a few items for us, but that day I learned a very valuable lesson that no matter what your stats or accomplishments are, to treat people all the same.  

Ted treated us like his friends that day and was more interested in my father’s occupation and our lives than his baseball accomplishments.   

Ted Williams was a baseball legend and hero, but he was also a war hero and knew exactly what it meant to put on a uniform. Sure athletes wear uniforms, but in Ted’s case he sacrificed the prime of his career to serve his country.

The game of baseball didn’t matter. 

I was too young to realize his impact on the game of baseball, but I’ll never forget his hospitality and willingness to make our meeting memorable. 

In that hour or so meeting, I gained an even greater appreciation for my father and his work ethic and dedication to his job and the sacrifices both of my parents made to put my brother and I into sports.    

Too many times in our lives we overlook our parents, coaches, teachers and all those that help shape and influence our lives, but we also overlook the impact that our military have on us every day, they are our personal heroes.             

I often tell people of my love of baseball and the Oakland A’s as a kid, but in that same sentence I often say all my heroes were steroid users.   

Sports aren’t always the purest and athletes don’t always have to be positive role models because clearly that’s not in their contract, but yet our society is still drawn to them.    

I’ve met my fair share of professional athletes over the years and a common characteristic amongst them is certainly a willingness to give back to the game that made them so successful and popular.  

99% of them that I have come across are also humble and recognize their impact. Clearly, we consider them to be our heroes. 

Nevertheless, it takes a very special person to don a uniform every day knowing and accepting the possible sacrifice that could be made in any moment at any time, to me that is the truest sense of a hero!  

On November 11th we pause to remember all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless, we should pause and reflect everyday, that was my message to all my classes on Thursday before the long weekend. 

As the generation gap widens we all share the responsibility to ensure that this generation of children understand and fully appreciate their sacrifice and what the true meaning of peace really is. 

This past week at school, we had several of our students share their definition of peace in their own language on a video during our Remembrance Day Ceremony at Moncton High School. As roughly five hundred Grade 9 and 10 students sat quietly and listened to their message, I thought about our students from war torn countries that have recently moved to New Brunswick and Canada to live in peace. It was a powerful reminder that war still affects us all in some way. 

We all have a role in teaching and ensuring that the next generation understands the courage, the bravely, the unity, the diversity, but more importantly the trauma of war. 

The true heroes are all around us every day, they wear a uniform and they protect us. 

They don’t live in the spotlight or are admired by millions like professional athletes.

The true heroes are all around us every day, they wear a uniform and they protect us. 

Unfortunately many people take them for granted. The true heroes died for all of us. The true heroes should be remembered.  Lest We Forget

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