What Makes Someone a Hero?

Jack the Giant SlayerBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

When we think of heroes, we often think of James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Batman.

The men who save the world and get the girl.

But there’s another kind of hero who often gets overlooked.

In Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack climbs the beanstalk along with some of the king’s best men to save the princess from the giants.

Of all the men who climb the beanstalk, by the time they free the princess, only Jack, Elmont (the head of the king’s guard), and Roderick (the princess’ fiancé) remain alive. And Roderick is evil to the core. He’s stolen the crown that can control the giants and now intends to use it to command them to take over the kingdom and make him king.

Jack, Elmont, and the princess escape from Roderick and the giants and flee to the beanstalk. Elmont tells Jack to take the princess down to safety. He has to stay behind. Someone has to kill Roderick before he can unleash the giants on the world below.

Elmont ambushes Roderick, but the fight doesn’t go his way. He ends up hanging off the edge of the giants’ floating island while Roderick digs a dagger into his hand. It looks like Elmont will plummet to his death.

Roderick sneers. “Oh, you thought you were the hero of the story? Don’t you know that we all think that?”

The thing is, I don’t think Elmont ever did think of himself as a hero. Even in terms of the story, it was Jack who’d be labeled the hero

Elmont doesn’t marry the princess. He doesn’t save the day in the end by retrieving the crown that can control the giants. He doesn’t rule the kingdom. Jack does all those things. In fact, as far as I can tell, the only thanks Elmont gets for the huge role he plays in defeating Roderick and the giants is that he’s able to continue serving the royal family he’s dedicated to.

And maybe that’s the sign of a true hero.

The one who doesn’t want acclaim. Who does his duty for no other reason than that it’s the right thing to do. Who thinks of others first. They’re the ones who put themselves on the line so that everyone else can go home safe. And they don’t stop until the job’s done no matter how dirty or tired or injured they are.

If we stop looking for the James Bonds or Indiana Joneses (and stop idolizing men because they can throw a ball), we’ll see that the real heroes were right there next to us all along.

The real hero is the man who works two jobs to provide for his family. It’s the woman who gives up her dreams to make sure her kids can follow theirs.

It’s the firemen, and police officers, and EMTs who put their lives on the line every day they go to work. It’s women and men like my husband who join the military and come home from war without pieces of themselves or with scars just as deep that we can’t see or who sometimes don’t come home at all.

They never think of themselves as heroes. But they are.

I’ve had a lot of these heroes in my life, but the one I’m going to thank today is my husband.  

Who’s yours? Will you be telling them “thank you”?

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” button. You can also join me on my Facebook page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

And don’t forget that you can receive a copy of my suspense short story “Purple” by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to 🙂