Thank you. Those words seem too small to say to someone so influential and heroic in my life. From comic books to the Special Olympics, heroes are everywhere. To be a hero, one must be admired for his or her attributes, achievements, and qualities of leadership, kindness, optimism, and humility. Although you might not be as strong as Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, you share many similar traits with him and his kind-hearted wife Penelope. By having these qualities, you have significantly impacted my life. Not only are you my inspiration, but you are also my hero.
It goes without saying that heroes are usually depicted as people with special powers, ranging from super strength to invisibility. However, your special powers include cheering me along…to keep [my] courage up (Homer 370). Odysseus battles a Cyclops with his soldiers and constantly cheers them on with encouraging statements, and like him, you always encouraged your grandkids to keep working and never give up. When I was having trouble keeping up in my martial arts class, you made me practice every day and even spar with you, and eventually, I improved greatly, surpassing my peers. You endured many hardships in your life and still kept going. After losing the Vietnam War, you were separated with your family and held captive in prison by the communist Vietcong for 13 years. By the time you reunited with your family in the United States, all your children matured and viewed you as a stranger. Your daughter was about to marry my dad. Your sons were all in college, preparing for their medical doctorates and engineering degrees. Yet you still tried to be the best father and husband possible and eventually, you did. You burned the fire in me a little bit brighter, and helped me discover that I can exceed my expectations as well as other people’s expectations of me. In addition, you taught me how to be a leader by being one yourself and using your wits to find a way (Homer 776-777).
Odysseus used his leadership and cleverness to help his soldiers escape multiple perils. Similarly, you were a leader through teaching me by example. After eating a meal, you would always put your dishes away in the sink to be washed, and I followed. After waking up in the morning, you would make your bed and closely observing, I imitated. Furthermore, Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, allowed a beggar to participate in a contest in which she would join [her] life with [the winner’s], and leave [her] home…forever (Homer 1119-1120). Penelope sets up a contest where her marriage with Odysseus is on the line, and she allows a poor beggar to take part in it, revealing her fairness and kind nature. Likewise, you tried your best to not be biased and to always be fair. Whenever my siblings and I would fight over whose turn it is to watch TV, you would give the person who watched the least amount that day access to it. You were always humble and never let [your] anger flare (Homer 501). Odysseus would often let his pride get the best of him, and as a result, endangered not only himself, but also his fellow soldiers. Unlike Odysseus, you were always modest (but boastful when talking about your grandkids) and disliked having too much attention. Being so similar and different from characters in the story, you had many qualities that make you my special hero.
With everything I have mentioned and with the multitude of things I am sure I forgot to include, I want you to know that I would not be where I stand today without you. Heroes do not have to wear capes and save the world from aliens, though I know you probably would try to if you could. Heroes just have to make the world a better place, even if it is just for one person. In this case, you made the world a better place for your family and friends, and as a colonel in the Vietnam War, for your country. I am lucky to have a person like you in my life. You inspired me, led me, advised me, cared for me, and sacrificed for me in the first 10 years of my life, and I will remember you for the rest of it. As Oliver Stone states in his essay, Where I Find My Heroes, heroes are not to be recognized (Stone). Well, here I am recognizing you. On behalf of all your companions, family members, and soldiers, I thank, appreciate, and applaud you. The next time someone asks me what a hero is, I, with an ear-to-ear smile, will proudly reply, my grandpa.