Can you recognize the true heroes?

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, Troy residents felt a collective warmth as they raised cheers for local firefighter Lt. Curtiss Shaver as his name appeared on a large purple and gold banner announcing he’d won a contest celebrating hometown heroes.

Shaver, 37, lost a portion of his leg in a farming accident when he was 18 and was rescued by the same fire department where he now works.

Shaver said after his rescue, he “just wanted to be one of them guys that could make a difference in someone’s life.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Record exec Scott Borchetta who sponsored a portion of the contest said he “got goosebumps” when he heard a firefighter from Troy had won.

I had goosebumps on Wednesday, along with the rest of the crowd gathered at Fire Station No. 1 for the announcement.

Fast forward a day.

At lunch Thursday, I ran an errand in Walmart and watched a group of girls flip through some posters, ogling a teenage pop star.

One said, “I’d give anything to meet him.” Another responded, “He’s amazing.”

A few flips later, “Ohhh. She’s like, my hero,” came from one of the girls pointing to a bikini-clad model.

While there are talented people who provide entertainment to the masses, I think the word hero is used too often and too flippantly.  When did we lose sight of what that word means? We knew the meaning when we were kids, playing cops and robbers and pushing firetrucks around the house.

Heroes are people with distinguished courage or ability. Heroes are brave and noble.

Shaver, along with other firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers, first responders, and military members, put their lives on the line each day to keep us safe. They are true heroes. They don’t get paid oodles of money. They don’t always get the appreciation they deserve, but they do their jobs tirelessly and full of heart. Heroes are called into action because they feel it is the right thing to do.

Musicians, artists, actors and models are many times worthy of admiration or respect, but no more so than another person who excels at their job.

Hero is a title that must be earned. Justin Bieber doesn’t come running when your house is on fire. Miley Cyrus doesn’t race to rescue people at the scene of car wrecks.

But Curtiss Shaver and other Troy and Pike County first responders do. And while the girl in Walmart may never get the chance to meet her musical idol, there’s every opportunity for all of us to meet a local hero. And that is so much better.

So, when you see a man or woman with a badge, or an American flag patch on their sleeve, or driving a rescue vehicle, wave to them. Smile. Or better yet. Tell them, “Thank you.”

Let’s remember to recognize true heroes when we see them.

Robbyn Brooks is a staff writer at The Messenger. Contact her at