Real Heroes

By Jon Williams
I’ve heard it said that Axl Rose, member of the band Guns and Roses, said that to become famous one has to only offend as large a group of people as possible. In the 1980s, his band did exactly that. Songs like “One in a Million” Imagerose to the top of the charts, bewildering many while enchanting the poorly dressed 80s generation. Guns and Roses became icons, heroes if you will, for a certain segment of the population.
At the same time, Madonna was paving her own path in popular culture by shocking and offending as many “traditional” Americans as she could. The “Material Girl” came into her own as a sexy role model for young women around world, and a sex symbol for young men. She never disappointed; finding new ways to shock the world during each tour and award show. Even today she is heralded as a hero to many as she “broke out” of the norms for women.
Both were given their platforms by Music Television (MTV) which was a cutting-edge media revolution. Youth flocked to “hip” MTV where new and “radical” music was always available. Remember Vanilla Ice, Milly Vanilly, and MC Hammer? Those seem like the good ole’ days, but at the time it was pretty radical. Nowadays, they seem rather calm.
The News this week has all been about Miley Cyrus and her gyrating “twerking” on stage. How she’s gone from being a hero for young girls to someone from whom you should shield your children.  ImageMy wife and I had a talk about this last night, and the lack of remorse from her parents is telling: They both know show business and the value of Axl Rose’s rule. They know that all the talk about Miley Cyrus is simply going to sell more albums and is going to  create more excitement next time she performs. “Can she outdo her last performance?” the pundits will ask. Is Miley Cyrus destined to be the next “Hero” that American culture looks back upon?
I submit to you that it doesn’t matter.  Let’s stop being offended. Let’s stop talking about it. Miley Cyrus never really was a hero to begin with. She was a young girl who had famous parents. She was spoiled rotten, and now she wants to be the center of attention… everybody’s attention. This does not, nor will it ever, make her a hero.
I want to talk about a couple of real heroes who are not only examples for our young women, they are examples for all of us.
The first is Aana Blalock.
Aana getting ready for treatment
Aana is an Air Force wife stationed in Germany. Her husband Jack has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. Together they have four children. Last year Aana was diagnosed with advanced stage Breast Cancer and has been fighting it ever since. With Jack’s multiple missions and temporary duty assignments, she has had a rough time, but she has refused to leave his side. Her parents and family have traveled from the US to Germany several times during the most difficult treatments to help take care of the kids… and Jack, but not once has she let up.
She posts in her blog on a regular basis thanking God for her boys (even her grown up one), her dogs, her family, and life itself. She has not once publicly complained. She carries on with a smile; keeping strong because that’s what true heroes do.
She is a wife, a hero to her husband. She is a mom, a hero to her sons. She is a hero to me. She is a military wife and a Breast Cancer survivor, a hero to all of us.
The next is Amanda Strader.
Amanda and Kent Strader
I met Amanda 30 years ago when I was 3 years old. Her family was the first family of missionaries to Africa that I had ever met (or at least understood). I have known her and her family almost all my life, even though she is a bit older than I. When I was 11 she married a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. I attended the wedding and was in awe as they sang Steve Green’s “Household of Faith” along with the rest of the packed audience. They left for Fort Bragg, Airborne School, and a lifetime of adventure a few weeks later. Her husband Kent is now about to be promoted to full bird Colonel, but was just recalled from a deployment to Afghanistan three months ago.  You see, Amanda was diagnosed with a rare form tongue cancer even though she’s never smoked/chewed a day in her life. She is allergic to many traditional forms of chemo/radiation, and even many medications which has made her treatment exponentially difficult. During the second week of treatment, she slipped and fell, breaking her ankle. This compounded the pain and agony of the treatment.
Amanda also posts regularly in her blog. She is always grateful to God for her family and friends. She and Kent are more than just husband and wife, they are best friends, and while they do not have any children, their separate writings show the tenderness they have for each other, the intense love they have, and the enormous faith they possess that God is in control of every situation.
You see, Amanda is a hero. She is a hero to her husband. She is a hero to her family. She is a hero to me. As a military wife and a cancer patient, she is a hero to all of us.
As a side note, when my own mother was dying of cancer, Amanda came from North Carolina and spent a week by her side, taking care of her. I’ve never forgotten that, and even if she’d never been a cancer survivor, a military wife, or any of the other, she’d still be a hero to me.
Real heroes don’t need offensive gimmicks. Real heroes are genuine, they are real. They do have one common trait that you should look for: Humility.
Real heroes are all around us; you don’t have to look to the television.
Aana and Amanda, you are two of my heroes.


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