Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Hero - This We'll Defend

We all have our idea and definition of what makes a hero. For some it would require a fancy suit and epic tale, but for me it’s in the little things that are truly not so little when you add them up, that makes a hero.  In this story, my hero’s suit is a U.S. Army uniform.

I have the honor and privilege to be surrounded by real heroes, though they would argue with me for calling them such a thing.  One of my friends, and he knows who he is, often argues and disagrees with me for calling him a hero.  But, regardless of his own definition and interpretation - he will always be a hero to me.

Who are my heroes?  They’re all men and women who wouldn’t want their names to be mentioned or even referenced, yet I have the honor and privilege to call them ‘friend’.  They will probably not want to read this post just because their mouths and stomachs are stuffed with humble pie. But this isn’t their blog, it’s mine.  It’s made for me to express MY opinion.  The admiration and love I have for these men and women sometimes brings me to tears it’s so overwhelming.

One of my heroes is a friend that currently serves as a Drill Sergeant at Fort Benning.  I’ve never seen someone work so much.  The hours he puts into his job brings new meaning to the phrase, “Thank you for your service.”  This man is LIVING to serve.  He sacrifices seeing his family.  He has no time for a social life or recreation.  He works so much that most of the time I’m around him, or while communicating with him, he’s falling asleep on his feet.  Some women would get upset about that, but not me.  I’m honored.  He’s a soldier in the U.S. Army, he’s seen combat and stood against our enemies, yet finds enough comfort in my presence to let down his guard and rest.  It’s the highest compliment he could ever pay me.

My Drill Sergeant friend is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen, not because he’s very handsome, but because of his dedication to what he does.  He cares about his job; his mission.  He cares about the impact he makes on the men he’s training.  I recently got to spend some time with those young men and I listened to how they spoke about my friend, and I heard the admiration and respect they had for him.  It brought me to tears while sitting in a circle of about 20 of them and one of these young men stood up and said, “I’m not afraid of what Drill Sergeant would do to me; I only fear disappointing him.”  You can’t buy, instill, or force that kind of respect.  It’s earned.  He never has to tell me anything else about himself  for me to know he’s a hero.  The respect in his men’s eyes are witness enough. I hope my eyes reflect the same respect.

I’ve watched my Drill Sergeant command, I’ve observed him lead, I’ve witnessed him teach, and I’ve never admired anyone more.  I appreciate him more than I could ever express.  I know not everyone who wears a uniform operates at his level of excellence and dedication, but he alone has restored my faith in the majority of those who do wear the uniform.  When I see the Army logo now it is his face that has become the face of that symbol.  Because of his leadership I have more confidence in those he sends out to fight, to protect, and to serve, because I know they’ve been taught by the best. I love and admire him deeply.

My Drill Sergeant wouldn’t want me to mention his name, and I will respect his privacy not to do so, nor mention the names of my other Army friends who I also love and admire and think of as heroes.  They know who they are … Ranger, Bestie, Major and Sergeant.  But I will share with you all a picture of my hero Drill Sergeant in service.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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