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May 1, 2012

I recently read a story about Major Dolly Skeete, a surgeon, who had just returned from a six-month deployment with the United States Air Force. Unlike the subjects of some of my other blog posts,  Dolly Skeete didn’t lead secret patrols or kill terrorists. She wasn’t wounded in battle and didn’t fly sorties into enemy-held territory.

She did, however, perform herculean tasks in one of the most dangerous places on earth: Southwest Afghanistan – Taliban country.  She performed 400 surgeries over a 180-day period, including multiple amputations.

But it isn’t what she did in a war zone that I focus on here.

Dolly Skeete did something that men and women – Americans and otherwise — have done across the world.  She left her country and her family to do her duty, to make a difference. What could be more difficult than leaving what you know and those you love to go somewhere you don’t know, to a culture so different from your own that the chasm between the two is unfathomable. As Dolly did, other Everyday Heroes trade comfort and familiarity for stress, danger, loneliness, and, too often, death.

I have asked the question before: What makes Everyday Heroes do what they do? I have come up with many answers, but none of them seems adequate. Patriotism, a search for adventure, doing their duty, wanting to make a difference. These are but a few reasons why everyday people become Everyday Heroes. The more I ask the question, the more I realize that there is one common trait exhibited by these men and women: character. Character is an elusive concept. It can be defined in many ways. But I suggest the meaning of character, when applied to Everyday Heroes, is all about courage.

Dolly Skeete exhibited courage. How much easier would it have been to find a way to avoid serving in Afghanistan? My God, she had three young sons and a husband at home. Didn’t they need her? She is a surgeon. How much easier would her and her family’s lives have been if she’d stayed home and earned big bucks by operating on patients in the safe, sanitary environment of an American hospital?

It takes character to do what Everyday Heroes do. For most of them, it takes at least as much courage to decide to serve as it does to actually serve.  It takes courage to commit to making a difference. For the rest of us back home, we must make a real effort to recognize the Everyday Heroes who are all around us. They are the members of the military who serve away from home. They are also the men and women, boys and girls who accept personal sacrifice in order to improve other people’s lives. That’s what Dolly Skeete has done. That’s what we all must do.

Imagine a world in which every person becomes an Everyday Hero.

Joseph Badal is the author of thrillers, including  The Pythagorean Solution, Terror CellThe Nostradamus Secret and Evil Deeds.  His next novel, Shell Game, will be released this June.

Joe lives in New Mexico, is married, and is the father of two sons.

Contact Joe:

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