*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on December 24, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

2020’s been difficult for all of us, so this December Matt Cavanaugh’s turned Peak Perspectives’ microscope on heroes and heroism. This is the fourth of a five-part series.

On this Christmas Eve, and for most of my life, I’ve worn a military uniform. You wouldn’t be surprised that sometimes I hear someone say, “thank you for your service.” It’s always appreciated, but I want to point out that far too often we overlook the real heroes here at home.

Think about this past year. The firefighters where we live, in Bear Creek Park and Manitou, out in other parts of Colorado. Sometimes, they’re all that stands between our fellow citizens and certain devastation.

Or the medical profession that fights fires at the microscopic level in the deadly war against our common enemy, COVID-19.

It’s hard not to spot the heroism in those that run toward the fire and the flames. They keep the bad from getting worse.

But others, in a quieter way, also keep us on life’s better path. Their public service is equally meaningful, particularly because they care for our youngest and oldest.

I couldn’t do my military job overseas without the support of this enormous public service community here at home: cops, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, TSA professionals, teachers, librarians, all those that keep us fed and warm and happy and healthy, and the cornucopia of others that serve our entire American public.

These heroes don’t wear capes. They’re all wearing masks right now, because they care more about the safety of others than any minor personal inconvenience.

Society is a mutual dependence on the heroism of our fellow humans. This largeness transcends any petty smallness that divides us. We’re stronger together. We need one another.

Be good, be well, be sure to clear brush from your home to protect from fire. Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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