“War is hell, but sometimes in the midst of that Hell men do things that Heaven itself must be proud of. A hand grenade is hurled into a group of men. One of the men throws himself on top of it, making his body a living shield. In the burst of wild fire he dies, and the others live. Heroism is only a word, often a phony one. This is an action for which there is no good word because we can hardly even imagine it, let alone give it its proper name. Very literally, one man takes death into his bowels, takes fire into his own sweet flesh, so that the other men can take life, some of them men he hardly knows.”
Heroes in real life rarely look like the all-mighty supermen or superwomen from books and movies. They might speak different languages, live in different parts of the world, wear different clothes, belong to different generations. Heroism is also not confined to wars. Japan’s nuclear crisis provided a good example of such non-war-related self-sacrifice with retired engineers volunteering to repair the Fukushima nuclear power plants to prevent younger people from radiation exposure.
What is common between all heroes is their brave action to give their lives to something bigger than them, to sacrifice their lives for others to make this world a better place. That’s why the memory of them never dies in our hearts.