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All kids — or at least all boys — have people they admire and want to emulate. For me, childhood heroes included the Lone Ranger, George Washington Carver, Johnny Unitas and my father. Oh, yeah, add Superman to that list.
I don’t wear a mask or own any silver bullets, have not discovered a marketable use for peanuts, can’t throw a deep post pattern and never adequately will fill Dad’s shoes. And you wouldn’t want to see me flying over the town wearing tights.
Generally speaking, writers don’t grow up to be heroes. But there’s an inscribed metal plate that says something different.
In front of a packed room at Vine Grove City Hall, Mayor Donovan Smith presented a plaque that connects my name to the phrase Hometown Hero. The recognition included some kind words acknowledging a September day spent at Optimist Park hosting the inaugural Brushy Fork political debates.
Being asked by Mayor Smith and Donna Broadway to act as emcee of this unique forum in my hometown was an honor in itself. Besides that, they bought me a corndog and lemonade. Receiving a special invitation to Thursday night’s Town Hall meeting for a public thank you was an unexpected but greatly appreciated kindness.
But it’s hard to be comfortable with the title. Heroes are people who stand in the line of fire. At the Brushy Fork debates, I stood in the line of politicians. It’s not the same thing.
The composition of the City Hall audience included true heroes such as volunteer firefighters, police officers, and innumerable men and women with military experience. Present were row upon row of people who have distinguished themselves through community involvement, educational service, business life and personal sacrifice. It included folks who shaped my life ranging from lifelong friends and my father’s high school classmates to my elementary school principal, who remains a model of integrity.
The true purpose of the evening also was quite humbling. The fundraiser for Vine Grove’s holiday benevolence program raised more than $14,000 to brighten Christmas for needy local kids thanks to a generous community and the volunteer efforts of five skilled auctioneers.
Listening to the fast-paced chants as the donated items disappeared for much more than their value, I realized that a lot of children in Vine Grove will wake up this Christmas morning without realizing their true childhood heroes were in that room.
Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at email@example.com or (270) 505-1764.