Monday, August 12, 2013


Let's face it, heroes these days have a difficult time staying on their pedestals.

Some heroes seem destined to become one, but we, the public, are often to blame for awarding the title to the wrong people or those who don't really qualify.

A hero is an everyday person who can change the world for the better. It could be simple act such as helping one person out or by helping millions.

There are big heroes known for a particular event, and there are small everyday types of heroes.
However, I think we overuse the term so that the word truly has little meaning.

What makes a hero?
Nelson Mandela is a true hero in every sense of the word.

But suppose I say my mother was a hero because she dutifully followed my daddy all over West and North Texas while he followed the work in the oil fields? She kept us fed, clothed, and happy. She went without a home of her own so we'd all be together.
Even though I loved and appreciated my mother, truthfully she does not come close to being a hero in the same category as Nelson Mandela. In fact, few people are.
But to me? She was a heroine, and my daddy was a hero.

Men, women, and even children are recognized all over our country
on a daily basis as being a "hero."

~*~A sick child with a positive attitude.
~*~A man who catches a baby falling from a third story window.
~*~All the firefighters who battle the mountain forest fires.
~*~The SWAT team who rescued hostages.
~*~A little girl who saves a kitten from a drain pipe.
History has given us time to ferret out true heroes of battles, wars, and liberations. Some have been proven to have clay feet after all.
Perhaps labeling a person a Hero lays a burden on his/her shoulders. How can a person live up to being a hero on a daily basis?

In romance novels, the hero is the important character. The heroine has a great role, too, but it's the male hero on which we focus.

Lucky for us, we have a definite list of What Makes a Western Hero.

Courteous, respectful attitude toward women
A loner. No close friends, no personal conversations
Rugged face; seldom smiles
Excellent shot
One companion, usually his horse
Hates rude people and will put them in their place
Great fighter - uses fists
Accepts all races
Traits of a typical Hemingway Hero are:
A love of good times, stimulating surroundings, and strict moral rules, including honesty.
The Hemingway Hero always exhibits some form of a physical wound that serves as his tragic flaw and the weakness of his character.

I'm particularly searching for a true modern hero. We expect our politicians, leaders of any kind, military personnel, and some dissenters to be hero material. Goodness knows, we can't expect that across the board.

Where have all the good ones gone?

Maybe I should lower my expectations of a true hero.

In fact, the heroes I create most often are flawed. I've even written one who abused the woman a little, but I redeemed him, and made him ashamed of what he did. Not one reader ever mentioned that perhaps he was not a good hero.

I think we all know heroes are made, not born, and it's not an easy task to expect one to be 100% true to the calling of a hero.


  1. Celia, good post. I agree that the term Hero is used too often these days and its meaning diluted. Maybe we should step it back a few notches, put fewer people on the pedestal, so there's more room for those true heroes. But who would get bumped? I think heroes are in the eyes of the beholder much like the heroes we create from our imaginations each day. Thought provoking post, Celia. You made me think! ;-)

  2. Great post, Celia. I think a person can be a hero to one or two people while others are heroes to a nation or the world.

    Nelson is a great example of the latter, but if you're a firefighter who rescues a child's dog from a burning house, you're a hero to that kid and you may end up shaping his/her life in totally unexpected ways.

    Of course, on my most optimistic days, I believe a smile at the right time to the right person can change the world.

  3. There are present day heroes. Anyone with a cause or deep belief in something will most likely have a hero. I consider every man and woman in the crew of the Steve Erwin heroes for risking their lives to save what's left of a dwindling whale population. They don't get paid; they're all volunteers and the money to run the rescue ship is all from donations from every day heroes who care about the earth and the creatures God created.
    I love what you said about people who choose jobs that put them in danger because they want to help people like firemen, emergency personnel and policemen.
    I like the people who see an emergency and dive in at their own risk to help. I think we see more of that these days.
    Of course, heroes in our stories have to be bigger than life, so their deeds must be great, but I like to think that on any given day, the hero is within each of us.
    What a great post, Celia. I enjoyed reading every word of it and it really got me to thinking about the true meaning of hero. Very provocative.

  4. We all have it in us to be a hero if we choose to be. It doesn't need to be contained to a handful, at least in my opinion it shouldn't be. However, I agree that we shouldn't overuse the term, either, because it denigrates those who actually are.

    A hero to one person can make a far bigger difference than it seems, so that isn't necessarily any less heroic. ;-)

  5. Carra--You've found the key to the definition of a hero: Heroes are in the eyes of the beholder.
    I think that's what I was trying to say, but didn't--so thank you for pinpointing the main idea of a hero.
    I always appreciate your comments.

  6. Keena--a smile definitely can make people look to you. I'm always drawn to those people who smile a lot. I'm thinking of two women here in town that always make me happier, and..both of them perform works for others. Surely they are heroes to some of those.
    Thank you for taking time to comment!

  7. Sarah--I especially look up to fire fighters and SWAT teams, and police officers. Those I especially pay attention to are the men and women in the military. I'm a big supporter of our men and women in uniform who protect out country.
    Yes, I agree, we see more people acting in everyday heroic acts...but I wonder if that's because of smart phones? Maybe these things took place all the time but few people saw them. Now, everything is instantly flashed around the internet. Personally, I love to see those--the more the better.
    Thank you for being so thoughtful. YOU always make me think.

  8. LK--We're all looking for heroes, probably. Yes, all of us could find ourselves in a situation that would call for heroic action, but more likely for most of us is to live a life that others respect.
    Unfortunately, some make heroes of people that have done nothing heroic.
    Thanks--your comments always hold a bit of wisdom to remember.

  9. Thought provoking and excellent post, Celia. I think caring heroes, those who slog through day after day, are the most impressive. The western Homeric epic hero is also wonderful. I think it's impressive of a writer to create a flawed hero who recognizes and changes - just a little, since people cannot change at their cores. Perhaps they discover a new or different aspect of themselves.

  10. Lindsay--oh, I so agree with you! So many men and women strive much harder than most of us just to survive, and to keep their family fed and clothed. I do admire those.

    I watched a TV movie years ago about a middle-aged woman with several children during the Depression. People were suffering, and begging for handouts. She took her own destiny in her hands--and her children's, and found a way to work for a man and take care of him and her children. She had to coax the elderly gentleman to allow her to physically repair his house--only for food--if she could house her children in an abandoned house he owned. It was am amazing story of a female hero.
    Thanks for making mention of these kinds of people.

  11. Great post, Celia. I've often thought of how overused the word "hero" is--sometimes, even in our stories we write, the man isn't a true "hero" but someone who is in the right place at the right time to protect the woman he loves. But I believe there are all kinds of heroes. I don't believe sports figures are heroes. I'll probably take flak for this, but I just don't feel like someone who excels athletically can compete on the same "hero playing field" as someone who runs into a burning house to rescue someone, or someone who gives of his time, energy and family life to serve in the military, etc. (And I am a baseball fan, y'all!)LOL I love the story about the woman who worked for food and shelter. I just can't imagine how hard that must have been to have lived back then and been responsible for children, with no jobs available. Like you, I believe that my parents were heroes in their own way. They went to a very small school in rural southeastern OK, with a graduating class of 12 people. Yet, they moved away out into the world and "made it" through the very rough times of practically living out of a car--my mom told me the first couple of years that they were married they had to move something like 16 times (with a small baby) and would have to ship the playpen on ahead so it would be there by the time they drove to wherever they were going (oil field trash here, too.)Very thought provoking. But then, your posts always are!

  12. Even heroes have to have a flaw to make them credible. I agree with Keena, a person can change your life and become a hero in your eyes, yet perhaps may not be a hero in the eyes of others. I also agree with Cheryl that sports figures should not be called heroes. Soldiers, firefighters, police, and others who risk their lives to protect others qualify.

  13. Celia, this is a thought provoking subject. I think there are heroes all around us but we just don't notice them. Maybe they fit our image of the handsome, rugged cowboy we write about in our books, but they make sacrifices, large and small, for their families, their communities, their country. All we need to do is look around and we'll see them.

  14. Cheryl--we have more than one thing in common: We don't believe sports stars are heroes, but we believe the Military personnel are.
    And we sort of have an "oil field trash" kinship! But, baby, look at us now!
    I always hope you'll comment because you have a lot to say--and it always hits home.
    Thanks bunches!

  15. Caroline--no truer words have been spoken. If a person risks his life on a daily basis for others, my lands, how can we call a NFL player who scores a winning touchdown a hero? But they do, all the time.
    Hey! I'm glad to see you're still among us and those boxes didn't squash you.

  16. LYN--good suggestion. We probably often overlook someone who did act heroically. If we do, I bet it's a police officer or a firefighter who just did his job, and we take it for granted.
    I'll be more careful now to look for ordinary heroes, and to turn away from some who beat their chests saying, "Look at me! See how great I am!"
    Thanks for visiting me today.

  17. Celia, what a thought provoking post full of inspiration. For me, a hero has to be brave, have inner courage, be able to look at his flaws and strive to overcome.

    I never knew that about a Hemingway hero but it makes a lot of sense.

    I'll definately be thinking of my hero, his flaws, and his strengths when I get ready to write my next novel.


  18. Steph--this also applies to our heroines. I learned a lesson when I first wrote The Stars at Night. My heroine, Kate, was taking her five yr old nephew to Texas, hopefully to live with his grandmother.
    In a few scenes at the first, I had her shoving his hand away, saying,Just a minute, Nicky.
    I wrote her as not hugging him to reassure him.
    Editors did not like her. So, I sent the first chapter to a young writer friend. She spotted my errors right off. "For a heroine to be a true heroine, she must like dogs, must not reprimand children, and she must kiss hurts away."
    I had broken all those rules.
    I have done the same thing with heroes, in my early writing life. But I soon learned--he's gotta follow the rules worthy of a hero!!!
    Thanks for your comment. I know how busy you are.

  19. Interesting post, Celia. 'Sporting heroes' is an oxymoron to me. There's nothing 'heroic' about kicking or hitting a ball I think modern society had undervalued the word 'hero' by its inappropriate use. It's the same with 'star' - it seems half the actors in our TV soap operas are now referred to as 'stars'.
    As far as fictional 'heroes' (and heroines) are concerned, it's simply a convenient way to describe the male and female protagonists in a story. True heroism is, as others have said, risking your life to save someone else, or sacrificing your own needs in order to help others. I don't think many of our so-called heroes and heroines in romance novels necessarily do that, so they're not 'heroic' per se. Maybe we'd be better using the theatrical term of 'leading man' and 'leading woman' rather than hero and heroine?

  20. Paula--now, you might just have something there, Paula. I like "leading man" and "leading woman."
    I don't read erotic, but early on while dipping my toe into reading romance novels (I once disdained them as many still do), I was mostly buying used paperbacks or checking books out of the library. (no ebooks then, for sure.)
    I recall one in particular, just for a couple of scenes. One, a man practically raped the woman, but then helped her up from the beach sand, and said, "COME WITH ME."
    Ewww. I wouldn't call him a hero by any stretch of the imagination, but the blurb did.
    Hero is a loose term these days. I don't mind at all if a dad calls his little sick child a hero if he takes his medicine so that he can live. It's all a matter of perspective.
    Thanks so much--you always have something a little different to say!

  21. I've read some 'romances' (and not erotic ones either) where I found nothing even attractive about the hero (let alone heroic)- but maybe we all have our different perceptions of what makes a man 'special'.

  22. Good food for thought, Celia. And good comments in response. I think parents are our first heroes and set the standard for what we expect and emulate, whether we realize it or not. Those who do what needs to be done, day after day, are the true silent heroes in my mind.

  23. Linda--I agree, and it's a perfect sentiment. Of course, most of us did look to our parents as role models. It's those who didn't have a good set of parents that are sometimes lost. I can only hope I have been a good enough mother that my kids hold me in some level of esteem. We all hope that, don't we.
    Thank you for taking time out of your website project to visit me and leave a comment.
    Talk to you more later.