Friday, July 8, 2011

An open letter to the REAL "Unsung Heroes".

As some of you know, my wife recently nominated me for the Sears “Unsung Heroes; Dads Making a Difference Contest”. Amazingly, I was selected as one of 10 finalists in the contest and we were placed on Facebook to have “fans” vote one of the dad’s as most deserving and to receive a grand prize of $30,000 toward a community build project.

While I am most proud of being a husband, father, and in general, a “family guy”, the title “Unsung Hero” made me feel a little uncomfortable. I have never viewed myself as a “hero” in any way, shape or form. The truth is, I am simply a product of my community. We have a rich history of legendary figures who have served our community and country in many ways; they have fought wars, served as spiritual warriors, built community, raised families, and have been beacons of light for all of us to see. By living in a community that is full of unsung heroes, it serves to inspire us all to be better, to give more support, and to serve more often. This spirit of service is not exclusive to one individual or group of people, but a spirit that is instilled in the very fabric of our community. It is not the exception, it is the norm.

This spirit was never more apparent than it was on April 27th and the days immediately following those devastating storms. That night our emergency services and first responders worked in circumstances that were simply overwhelming, with devastation across our entire county, roads impassable, 911 emergency lines full, our local heroes went to work, pulling people out of crumbling homes, risking their own life and limb to help those in need. Unfortunately, the extent of the crisis was far beyond what our emergency services could respond to and that is when we watched as neighbors, in the dark of night, crawling through rubble, cutting trees, and moving debris to help those in need.

We watched as farmers used tractors to clear debris off of roads, businessmen picked up chainsaws to cut trees off of houses, and elderly women walked miles to offer warm meals, hugs, and prayers of comfort. Nobody was untouched. Nobody was unmoved. And nobody sat still when they had an opportunity to serve. This is the spirit of our community, this is home.

I am proud that my wife thought so highly of me to nominate me for this honor, possibly the best Father’s Day present of all time. I was surprised and honored to be selected by Sears as a finalist, but most of all I am humbled to be a small part of this community of unsung heroes.

So, I’d like to dedicate this column to you and say “thank you” to everyone who supported our efforts to win this contest and bring this $30,000 home to Bradley County, but more importantly, thank you for what you do every day, serving your neighbor, supporting your friends, inspiring those around you, and acting as the REAL unsung heroes.