One Second of Courage

To some degree, we are all cowards.  I know I am.  I don’t like confrontation.  We hide from conflict and run for cover when the world starts falling around us.  It’s part of who we are as humans.  But it doesn’t define who we are, or who we have become. 

This past weekend we celebrated Memorial Day, where we spent the day welcoming the beginning of summer and the coming vacations, cookouts and good times with friends.  We honored the sacrifices of those service men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  If we listened close enough, we could hear the Rolling Thunder of thousands who gathered to remember those who remain Missing in Action (MIA) and Prisoners of War (POW), and in the silence, we can still hear their voices echoing in our hearts. 

We don’t remember these individuals for the times that they sought refuge from the storms that they faced.  We don’t share stories of how, when faced with the nightmares of war, they broke down and shed tears.  We don’t remember that even we, ourselves hold cowardice within our hearts. 

When faced with conflict, our animalistic response kicks in.  Fight or flight.  In less than a second, we become someone, something different.  We see it in those who have seen and experienced war, but also in the lives of those around us.  We see it in the mother and father who throw themselves in front of their children.  We see it in the police officer who responds to the call of duty.  Or the fireman who risks their own lives to enter into the flames to save a life, by risking their own. 

We can train to respond, but we never know how we will truly act until that instant is upon us.  And in that second, the coward within us can be transformed into a hero. 

We remember those that fell to violence by the way they acted in the last moments of their lives.  They stood in the face of adversity and became someone they no longer recognized.  They are heroes because of a split second decision that now defines their lives. 

We all have the ability to become heroes.  I know many that have stepped up, but never realized it. 

My father, who served in the United States Army for the first 18 years of my life.  My Grandfather and Grandmother, who both served in the Navy.  My Sister, who, when faced with a degenerative disease, refused to back down and give up.  My brother, who has trained for the past several years to save lives as a firefighter and then a paramedic.  Corps Members that I served along side with on Shuffle Sun 6, based out of Denver, CO for NCCC Class XVII, who put aside their fears and reservations when we were called to respond to Joplin. 

We all know heroes.  We’ve all have lives touched by someone who refused to back down in that instant that they were forced to make a choice.  It’s not something that we can understand, but a split second in our lives that changes us, that defines us. 

We are all cowards, who have the ability to become heroes. 

God Bless and PEACE

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