Hero Personal Essay Template

What Does It Mean to Be a Hero?

We often talk about fictional characters with supernatural powers as heroes. Soldiers, firefighters, volunteers are also often called the heroes. But what really is a hero? Does heroism always require the physical strength, or are there other important qualities that define a hero? According to a Meriam-Webster Dictionary, a hero is a person who is greatly admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. (1) Does that mean that people with outstanding personal qualities who can motivate us and change the world can be considered the heroes? Probably, yes.

A hero can be anyone we look up to. Heroes can be real or fictional, they can be someone we see every day or have met once in our life, they can be male or female, children or grown-ups. When we were young, our heroes were Robin Hood, Batman, Spiderman. Then our moms, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers and even our pets became our heroes. We become older, more experienced, and our perceptions about heroes change. We start to think that we are surrounded by heroes, in fact. Single mothers who deny themselves food and clothes to send their children to college, couples who adopt children, a person who donates his kidney to save the brother, children who put their careers on hold to take care of their sick parents, people who sacrifice their dreams to support the loved ones, cancer patients who continue to fight for their life – these are the examples of heroes around us. (2)

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Heroes motivate us. They can do plenty of different things that inspire and stimulate others to do their best. The heroes make us find and develop our best qualities and share our experience with other people who need it. The motivation is very important for finding strengths within yourself and disclosing the prominent qualities. When we see the Red Cross volunteers, the dangers these men and women face, their extreme courage, we respect them and also want to help others. We decide to join different organizations and become the active volunteers, whether at preserving the wildlife, protecting homeless pets, or fighting with corruption. Heroes motivate us to realize our assets and make our small contribution into the good deeds. Heroes don’t only save us, they help us to save ourselves.

Heroes change the world. They love the feeling to help other people and try not to miss the opportunity to be useful and sympathetic. Heroes make sacrifices for others, no matter small or enormous ones. Very often they are not prepared for what they would experience, but always make the right and decent decisions, even in the most difficult and confusing situations. That is the main reason why they receive the respect, recognition and support for their future great deals. You also can be a hero for someone. It’s not difficult – help someone in need, defend the moral principles, be reliable and sympathetic, join the useful activities, do your best to realize your passions and follow your heart. Maybe one day someone will call you his hero.

There are more heroes around us than we think. To find them, look at your parents, neighbours and friends. You’ll find that they are great people who make sacrifices for others, use their courage to deal with the harsh realities of the modern life, don’t lose their humanity when facing challenges and always ready to help if you need. Sometimes we don’t even know about the great deeds of all those people, as heroes don’t like to share their stories. Look around and you’ll probably find your hero.

1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hero
2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201009/what-makes-hero

The Hero

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The Hero


Another Sunday morning came, and as I contemplated whether I should do my laundry, or go to the super market, or maybe even down to the mall to buy that fishing rod that was on sale, the phone suddenly rang.

"Hey Russ, do you want to go down to the mall? They have a sale at Big Video, all their heroes of action videos are on sale today" said my friend Gilbert.

I guess he read my mind, which came as a blessing, since decisions of the mediocre kind tend to be fruitless at this hour of the morning.

"I'll come by to pick you up in 20 minutes" I replied as I dragged my comb across my hair and was soon in my car on my way to the first task at hand.


Parking was a breeze this weekend as many Americans have chosen to recess their spending since the September 11 attack by terrorist. Only I, whom at one time had confronted their type on the operation table, was not about to give them the pleasure. Now bless me for my behavior for I was rewarded for the first time by the gift of front row parking. As I headed for the sporting good shop, Gilbert dashed to the video sale to assure his chances of getting there before his prizes were all sold out.


After I completed my procurement of that dashing blue fishing pole, I stopped at the Deli to pick up a hero sandwich in honor of a comrade in arms. As I ordered that big boy, I slipped the owner a ten-spot and asked if he could make this one special for someone deserving. He smiled and went to the oven to get a hot fresh loaf of bread. You could see the hot vapor rising, as he sliced though the crispy crust. He panned though the assortment of exotic mustards and picked out his all time favorites, spreading it across the aromatic loaf. He went straight for the refrigerator where he pulled fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and the large chunks of deli meats that were freshly sliced for the occasion. He added a few extra slices just to be sure the sandwich looked as good as its name.

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Hero         Go Down         Sunday Morning         Refrigerator         Sure         Sandwich         Laundry         Guess         Parking         Oven        

He handed it to me wrapped in plastic then foil and put into a large brown bag.


As I paid for the meal the Deli owner said,

"May I shake your hand?"

"Sure, but why do you offer me this honor," I asked?

The Deli owner replied, "one of my customers said you used to work for the government and almost died on your last assignment, so I just wanted to thank you."

"You're welcome," I replied, "but I didn't do it for you, I did it for that little document called the Constitution of the United States, which is more important than you or I."

He looked a little puzzled at first but a few moments later when he handed me my change he said,

"I get it now, that's really profound, I never looked at it that way."

I smiled at him, as I knew enough was said and went to see if Gilbert had obtained his wanted trophies.


I was walking toward the video store when I spotted Gilbert exiting the establishment with a large and hefty bounty of his treasures.

"Look at what I got" Gilbert said, as he showed me his purchases.

"Well I guess I know what you will be doing while I'm at the pier fishing" I replied.

Gilbert pulled out a video taped movie and said,

"This is my favorite, it's Top gun with Tom Cruise, he's a Navy pilot that flies F14's, and he goes up against these Russian Mig's, and he . . . "

"Yes, I saw the movie, why do you like those type of movies anyway," I asked?

"Because he's a hero" Gilbert replied.

"Tom Cruise?" I reluctantly blurted out.

"Yea man, he's the best" he replied.

"I once read an article in the paper where Mr. Cruise answered a call of distress while he piloted his yacht in the ocean, but that was the only thing to my knowledge that deserves a merit of any stature."

"Wow. I didn't know that? You see, he really is a hero," Gilbert confirmed.

"I guess so," I replied somewhat reluctantly as we headed out the door to the mall.


"I need to make a quick stop before we head on home" I told Gilbert as I headed to the park just outside the entrance of the mall. I walked over to the picnic benches toward a man in a tattered khaki uniform, which was wrinkled, torn, and mostly faded throughout its appearance. His face was hardened with age and his chin was covered with the shadow of a beard several days old. This adornment seemingly camouflaged the many scares that lay beneath it, left there from a time of unrest. I kneeled down and rested myself on one knee as I handed him his hero sandwich.

"The deli shop owner made this especial for you Commander. Any time you're hungry just ask him to make you a sandwich and he will charge it to my account. Remember also I gave you my address and phone number so anytime you need anything you just call me," I told him as he accepted my offer of lunch.

He looked up at me with his glazed eyes and said "thank you," as I shook his hand and left him in peace to enjoy his meal.


On the drive home Gilbert was quiet but seemed to be festering, so I decided to ask him what his unrest was about.

"I know you want to say something, so go ahead and say it," I stated.

Gilbert looked at me deciding how he was going to express himself without offending me, so I assured him that I was his friend and real honesty would never offend me.

He took a deep breath, then let it out as he said,

"I guess I don't know where you're coming from, people like that drunken bum you just gave that sandwich to, are what is wrong with America today. They waste their whole lives doing nothing, then you go and feed him and become his meal ticket. Now he's never going to try and find a job. He sets a bad example for everyone, and people like that should be shot. You assist and condone that kind of guy, but on the other hand you knock a real hero like Tom Cruise. Sometimes I just don't understand you?"


I let him inhale for a second, and then I calmly replied,

"I apologize if you thought that I knocked your hero, but to me Mr. Cruise is just an actor. He may be an outstanding person in real life but far from the standard of a hero in my eyes. A real hero to me is that person whom you assumed was a bum that just was sentenced to death. Since you're into Top Gun this should be of interest to you. Did you notice the insignia that is pinned on his uniform? That would signify that this man used to be an officer, an Lt Commander. Those gold wings on his chest mean that he was a naval aviator, and that badge he wears attaches him to a command at sea, and those two ribbons are distinguished flying cross awards, which means that he has been decorated twice for outstanding heroism and valor. I looked up his name in the navy archives and his first medal was received when he volunteered for a dangerous mission to fly behind enemy lines to locate Sam missile sites. What this job consists of is flying so the enemy can launch missiles at you to shoot you down. This dangerous task helps us obtain intelligence to protect all the other aircraft that may fly into the area. While on this mission, he was shot down behind enemy lines, and knowing that he would not be rescued because they are not going to jeopardize more men to save just one, he proceeded to cross though enemy territory. While he was making his way back from a treacherous area, he came across a village filled with Vietcong soldiers in hiding. He gave up his secure position when he tried to flag down an inbound chopper of Marines in midst of insertion about to land and be ambushed. He saved the lives of the men in the chopper but was captured by the enemy and tortured. Later he found a way to escape and returned to the fleet where he resumed active duty and was able to supply us with valuable Intel.


His second distinguished flying cross was awarded by the President of the United States for outstanding braver and sacrifice. He was flying a mission behind enemy lines when another pilot's jet was shot and leaking fuel. As the pilot of the other jet was slowly losing altitude and would have crashed in enemy territory, the Commander told him to drop his tail hook whereby he pushed the other jet with his front windscreen seven miles to a safe punch out zone. This resulted in the front windscreen shattering and damaging his helmet visor lens. Knowing that two individual rescue operations would limit the chance of the other pilot's survival, the Commander refused to punch out his jet and proceeded to land his plane on the aircraft carrier. The force of the wind shear resulted in the permanent partial loss of vision in both his eyes. His sacrifice and heroic act had ended his flying career.


Being a pilot which was the only thing he was trained for upon returning to our Homeland, he was not able to get a job, yet he does not drink or feel sorry for himself and remains a loyal patriot to the united States, despite all the adversity he has been given. So, I'm sorry if I don't agree with you, but my opinion is he is more of a hero then Tom Cruise will ever be.


The rest of the ride home was silent except for his thanks and farewell as he left the vehicle. As I pulled away, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Gilbert open his trash container and dropped inside it his large bag of videotapes. I smiled knowing that at least he had a new vision of what a real hero really was.

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