A hero is commonly defined as one who performs acts of courage through benevolence. Upon hearing the word “hero”, people tend to think of and consider classic comic book personas or even celebrities. Although these figures fit the descriptions of traditionally valued heroes, a hero can also be defined as someone who simply contributes to the well-being and betterment of a community. The perception of a hero differs from person to person, but the true essence in what determines a hero lies in one’s ability to positively impact people, places, or .
People are not born heroes, they may have similar characteristics of a hero, but they may not have the same intentions when given a situation, which means that heroes can be born out of the blue. On June 1989, Chinese tanks pushed into Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing to shoot and kill student protestors who were pro-democracy and called for the resignation of Chinese Communist Party leaders. As the tanks moved in, a man known as “Tank Man”, came out of the crowd and stepped in front of the tanks. He continued to stand in their way as they tried to maneuver around him.
Soon, two men forcibly removed him from their path. The confrontation became one of the most enduring images of the pro-democracy protests that occurred in China. This mysterious man’s heroic actions urged others to fight for democracy and the courage to stand up for the greater good. According to many photographs and videos, the man held shopping bags which implies that an ordinary person, who did not plan on making such an impact on history, stepped up and did what no one else would have done. Unfortunately, the images of his heroic actions are actually banned by China’s Communist regime and not many people know of his heroism.
One of the qualities heroes acquire is the ability to overcome obstacles when they are put in a difficult situation. Jackie Robinson was the very first African American to play baseball in the major leagues on April 15, 1947. During the 1900s, blacks and whites lived totally different lives due to their separation between skin color ranging from daily activities such as eating in a restaurant, bathrooms, drinking from a water fountain, etc. This made it very difficult for the different racial groups to get along, which made Robinson’s journey heroic. During his first season in the major leagues, Robinson received thousands of racial comments from opposing teams and fans, and also from some of his own teammates. Some hotels refused to let him stay.
City officials would occasionally not let his team play in the city because they had an African American on the team. This process to become a pro seemed nearly impossible, but Robinson’s decisiveness allowed him to impress those who doubted and despised him. Even with all the taunting and threats, Robinson never gave up and continued to outperform many of the experienced players. He channeled all his anger from the threats he received to his performance. Many view Robinson as an extraordinary figure when it comes to sports because he paved the way to the MLB for African Americans. Due to his bravery and determination, people will always see him as a true hero in baseball history.
True leaders always put others before themselves doing so without any expectation of payback. Muhammad Ali became a hero to many, not just because of his amazing boxing talents, but also because of his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army. With the U.S. at war with Vietnam, Ali refused to join the army because according to one of his famous quotes, “[He] ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” Ali stood up to even the army to show that he would not serve a nation who did not respect him, the people of his color, and his religion. Ali faced many crucial consequences such as being stripped of his heavyweight title, convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. However, his case was appealed and the Supreme Court overturned his convictions, so he returned to his passion of boxing. This not only proves that Ali remained faithful to his religion, but that he was selfless and puts others first.
Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most prominent leaders our nation has ever seen, took major steps towards creating a nation where men and women were treated equally by resisting passively, such as promoting non-violent protests. King developed a great concern for all victims of injustice, which brought his attention to the lack of civil rights for African Americans during the mid-1950s. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks got arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. Then, King swooped in to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted 381 days and later convinced the Supreme Court to rule segregated seating on public buses unconstitutional in November 1956.
King worked with others to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a political rally to fight for the injustices African Americans faced throughout the country. He also led marches for desegregation in public places and other basic civil rights. The passing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 enacted many of the rights King fought for into the law. Although King had many followers, he also had those who disliked his motives and opposed his actions. Beaten and put into jail many times, he still refused to stop fighting for the people. Many people consider him a hero because of his quality of patience to remove racism and for sacrificing his own life while remaining faithful to his morals of non-violence.
Heroes do not necessarily have to make a huge impact on a large group of people, but a hero is considered someone who impacts anyone’s life. Some people find their parents, neighbors, or friends to be their heroes because of the sacrifices the heroes have made for them. Heroes are much more than people who wear capes and have super powers to save peoples’ lives. They are people who never give up and truly do what they think is right.