For most of my life I have been oblivious to the subtle presence of quiet heroes.
Quiet heroes are individuals whose uniforms have been retired, the ones who do not wear rank and affiliation prominently and may easily go unnoticed.
Working for the Paraglide affords me a long list of unique opportunities and experiences. I have had a “fly on the wall” view of amazing events and found myself interacting with all manner of interesting individuals. The experience is truly like no other.
No matter the excitement of a day at the range, the fun of a Family event or the multitude of learning opportunities I have had the chance to report on, the one part of my job that elicits true awe and gratitude is a newfound awareness of the quiet hero.
These are the heroes I used to fail to notice, who blend into civilian life. I have realized I am constantly in the presence of true and very real heroes.
These heroes come in great variety — young and old, male and female. Walking among us is a whole gamut of often unknown brave persons.
As time passes it also becomes increasingly clear that the stories of those quiet heroes should be heard, for the young while it is still fresh, and for the old while there is still time.
The last surviving World War I veteran, Florence Green, died in Britain in 2012, two weeks before her 111th birthday.
On Oct. 4, Retired Tech. Sgt. Donald Malarkey, of famed “Easy Company,” 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division was lost to the world, but thanks to Band of Brothers, his story was not.
However, many veteran stories, like Malarkey’s, remain untold and unheard.
It is our honor, our good fortune, especially here in Fayetteville, to be able to encounter individuals with such stories every day, and it is up to us to ask and to listen.
Although some may wish to keep to themselves, many truly enjoy sharing.
The older individuals, the ones who sit calmly taking in the chaos of the world around them, these quiet heroes, if you look closely their eyes tell their stories before you even ask.
A simple conversation can be more rewarding and inspiring than you might realize, for both participants.
Next time you think you see it, that subtle presence, that quiet hero, ask and listen.