Ordinary Americans Doing Extraordinary Things
March 12, 2009
The youth of today are inundated by all kinds of things in the media. Things that tell them what is considered cool and hip in society today. But how positive are the messages that our children are receiving? Think about it, really think about it. Every day in the media, be it television, the radio or even online, we are bombarded with stories about sports figures, musical artists, actors, politicians and other so called pillars of society, who are often in trouble with the law, or in the media for doing things that are socially unacceptable. Yet these are the people whom many of us and therefore our children look up to as role models. They strive to dress like them, act like them and hope to lead a similar life as them. Is that really the message that we want our children to have? Are these really the people that we wish for our children to emulate? Is that the type of person that we hope our children become?
Think about those negative role models for an instant. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Axel Rose, Terrell Owens, Michael Vick, Teddy Kennedy, Roseann Barr, the list could go on and on. Do we really wish for our children to grow up to be like these people? As a parent, I can honestly say that I did my best to make sure that my children didn’t grow up to be like these people and live the lives that they lead. I tried my best to ensure that my children had positive role models growing up and am very proud of the young men that my sons have become. I tried to teach them responsibility, right from wrong, and the joy they could find in doing something for someone else, not because they had to, but just because it was the right thing to do. The role models that I provided for my sons and pointed out to my sons, were for the most part, positive role models. Did they still make mistakes sometimes? Undoubtedly, but they did their best not to do so. Those are the role models I wanted my sons to emulate and for the most part, they’ve done so. People like our Troops, our police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel. Normal, everyday people that we come into contact every day. People who quite often do completely amazing and extraordinary things, not because they have to, but because it’s just the right thing to do.
All across America, there are thousands of men and women who selflessly do things for the betterment of others and of our country. The majority of these men and women never receive any recognition for their actions, nor in most cases, do they wish for recognition. Instead they do the things they do, not because it’s a requirement to do so, but instead because they want to. These people are ordinary people who on a daily basis, do extraordinary things. Perhaps, they are that person who volunteers for the local fire department or Emergency Medical Service. Perhaps they are the grocer who witnessed an accident on his or her way to work and stopped to help. Perhaps they are the teenager who volunteers at the local nursing home, reading to the elderly. Perhaps they’re the Servicemember who volunteered for the military after witnessing the events of 9/11 on their television sets.
While these people may be from different walks of life, in different professions and each encountering different circumstances, they are people who go out of their way to do things for others and for our country, without asking for anything in return. They are people who are willing to make sacrifices to benefit others or to benefit our country. These people are the people we should encourage our children to emulate. They are role models and mentors and they set a great example for each of us.
One website has made it, their mission to celebrate the lives of these extraordinary American people. This website, Great Americans, strives to tell the story of the lives of these heroes, the story of their service and sacrifice for the benefit of others. As part of the mission of Great Americans, they are striving to tell the story of the men and women who serve our country in uniform, both at home and overseas. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, Police Officers, Fire Fighters and EMS personnel to name a few. These people put their lives on the line on a daily basis, to ensure our safety and security. Each and every one of them are true American Heroes and each of them has a unique and special story. At Great Americans, their goal is to share their stories through video. Please take some time to visit the Great Americans website, to view some of the videos, read their blog and participate in the discussions on their forum.
Please also take some time to read about the founder of Great Americans, Matt Daniels. His is an amazing story of how, with role models, one can succeed in life and be a positive role model for others. Matt grew up in the Spanish Harlem area of New York City. Matt didn’t have many positive role models growing up. When he was a young man, his mother was robbed by 4 men, and in the ensuing struggle ended up with a broken back, that caused her to be disabled and subsequently have to rely on welfare to support herself and her son. Because of some positive role models in his life, Matt was able to do amazing things with his life. Things that one wouldn’t think possible, considering his impoverished upbringing. Because of the example these people set for Matt, he worked hard, received a scholarship to Dartmouth Law School. Because of the influence that these positive role models in his life, Matt’s dream was to created a place to spotlight the modern day “Great Americans,” to tell their story. The stories that we so very rarely hear about. Once again, I encourage you to visit Great Americans. Listen to the stories there about true American role models, ones we should make sure that our children know about. I think you’ll be very pleased with what you find there. In the future, as I’m covering stories about our military men and women, I’ll try to incorporate videos from the Great Americans website.