Who is your hero? For that matter, what is a hero? One definition is: a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. Of course, "man" in this sense is a person, regardless of gender. I'm saddened to see the gradual change in our society that invests sports figures and performers in the entertainment world with this title. Why should an outfielder who hits the baseball well be a hero? Why consider someone who gets a multi-million dollar contract to sing or dance or act a hero? To my mind, these people are neither heroes or (in most instances, at least) role models.
The men and women who braved the disaster of the Twin Towers in rescue and recovery efforts are heroes. The pilot, Sully Sullenberger, who demonstrated skill and bravery in landing his crippled plane and saving the lives of hundreds of passengers is a hero. And the breadwinner, regardless of sex, who scrambles in this tough economy to make a home and provide for his/her family, making sacrifices and working long hours, is a hero.
In our novels, we often speak of our protagonist as a "hero." That's not always the case. They may be the lead character. They may demonstrate grace under fire toward the book's conclusion. But not always do they rise to the level of heroism. In instances when they do, the reader should turn the last page of the book, inspired and encouraged. An author can hope for little more than that.