A student asked to interview me for an English Class project. Happy to help I said "Sure" and then was stumped by her question: Who is my hero and why?
My gut reaction was to say what many teachers do: Jaime Escalante, whose exploits were featured in the film Stand and Deliever. As an asside I had a chance to meet Edward James Olmos who played Escalante in the film. When I told him I was a teacher and I regularly watched that movie each fall to help get my mind in the right place, he stood up and said to me, "I want to shake your hand. You do the real work."
My next thought was to my friends, family and former students in the services, Capt Green in the USCG, Capt's Garner, Garner and Hichika in the USMC, Randal and Moseby in the USAF and Tobias in the Army(whose ranks I do not know), and countless others whose names or branches I can't recall. Those are every day heroes.
While at Dragon Con last year I was wearing a costume from the new GI Joe movie when someone came up to me with a sign: "Heroes Donate Blood". So I went, rolled up my camo'd sleeve and gave my pint. I also did not throw up, nor did I feint. My wife however took 10 minutes less time and was able to walk out when she was done whereas I was sitting there for a good while with an ice pack. How does this relate to GI Joe? Well, wasn't he a "Real American Hero"?
If I had to nail it down to a single person though....
Alan J Osterman
Yeah, my dad. He put two kids through college while working 30 years at Chrysler. He's the model family man, the kind that you never see on TV because anyone watching would say "that's not real; no one is that loyal, that kind, or that loving." He almost never yelled. He didn't need to; just saying he was "disappointed" was enough to send my sister or I into quivering tears of regret and contrition. He helped take care of his own father and step mother who lived in Florida while we were up here in Michigan, making regular trips with his brothers to help support them. He's a playful grandfather and still a loving husband.
If I can become half the man he is, I will consider myself blessed.