In 1995, April 28 was declared National Superhero by employees of Marvel Comics. It is a day to celebrate our heroes, not just the four-color heroes who wear capes and masks, but the real life heroes who inspire us to be better versions of ourselves.

It’s also a day to watch superhero movies, to dress up like your favorite costumed heroes. It’s a day to say “thank you for your service” to firefighters, police officers, and veterans. It’s a day to haul your old comic books out of the attic and reread them. Or perhaps to read or reread Pauli Murray’s memoir Song in a Weary Throat or John F.Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage. If you prefer fictional heroes, you might turn to Rafael Sabatini, Lois McMaster Bujold, or Mercedes Lackey.

Your local library is full of heroes, in the books written by uncounted thousands of celebrated storytellers.

It’s also a wonderful day to listen to SciFi.Radio, because frankly, the best music comes from the stories with the best heroes.

T. Roosevelt, Mt. Rushmore {image via Scott Catron}

What is a hero? Is it enough to inspire someone else? Or must a hero face physical danger at risk to his/her own life to save someone else? Must a hero be brave and bold? Bertolt Brecht said “Unhappy the land where heroes are needed.” Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo, 1943. Unfortunately, Brecht was right: without Jim Crow, Jackie Robinson would be just another athlete. Without World War II, Audie Murphy would have been forgotten years ago by all but his family. If Gotham City didn’t have a worse crime problem than the police could handle, Bruce Wayne would have been just a millionaire playboy philanthropist, rather than training himself to become the world’s greatest detective and an Olympic-caliber athlete. If Loki and the Chitauri hadn’t invaded Manhattan, Nick Fury would not have needed to assemble the Avengers.

Who are your heroes? Doubtless they have changed over the years, as you gained experience and changed your opinions.

  • Father Armand David, the French missionary who saved Pere David’s deer from extinction is a hero to many zookeepers and zoo visitors around the world.
  • Florence Nightingale is a hero to many, including but not limited to nurses.
  • Raoul Wallenberg saved countless lives in World War II. He was a diplomat, not a soldier.
  • Sophie Scholl is almost unknown in the USA, but a major heroine in Europe. She was executed for protesting against Adolf Hitler and Naziism.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was a politician, patriot, naturalist, author, political philosopher, and political reformer.
President Obama and Nichelle Nichols flash the Vulcan greeting.
President Obama and Nichelle Nichols flash the Vulcan greeting. {image via WhiteHouse.gov}

Actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, became a hero to many, including Whoopi Goldberg and Dr. Mae Jemison, by showing an African-American woman could portray a starship officer on TV. In the legal drama All Rise, Judge Lola Carmichael kept a framed picture of Uhura in her chambers. Ms. Nichols inspired many children, male and female, Black and white to pursue STEM careers.

LeVar Burton is an advocate for literacy as well as an actor/director. Many teachers, parents, and librarians consider him a hero, and he has built a remarkable legacy for future generations.

As a stroke survivor, my personal heroes are the EMTs who rushed me to the hospital, and Ms. Katrina, the physical therapist who taught me how to walk again.

As a comic book fan, my heroes are Storm, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), the Beast, Spider-Man, and Batman.

Who are your heroes? Why do you respect them? Please share your opinions with us in the Comments Section below.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.