Hero title needs to be earned

By Jim Lee

We hear a lot of talk about heroes these days. That’s a good thing because we need heroes. We need people we can admire, people who give us and (especially) our children a positive role model.
A society without heroes is a society without values. What defines our society to a large extent is the way we define our heroes.
The status of hero should not be given easily. Special recognition should be reserved for special people.
Unfortunately, I have heard this term thrown about almost indiscriminately.
An outstanding athlete should not receive the accolade of hero. What in the world is a football (or other sport) hero anyway? A great athlete (or great anything) certainly deserves recognition, but do we call this person a hero?
I define a hero as an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. These extraordinary things are unselfish acts most others in the same situation would not do, and they are done without thought of reward or risk.
I think an act such as pulling a child from a burning house, while admirable, does not make one a hero because just about anybody would do the same thing if confronted by the same situation.
Heroism does not have to be dramatic or headline-grabbing.
What about a single parent providing for his/her kids without giving up and taking handouts, and who works full time while acquiring education or training to provide a better life for the family?
What about a person who, in addition to his/her regular job, works hard to make the community a better place for everyone without asking for anything?
It takes courage to go back to school years after leaving high school. It takes dedication, determination, and hard work to take care of a family’s needs and the demands of a job while making that extra effort in a classroom — all this while asking nothing of anybody.
These people have earned respect and admiration, maybe even hero status.
When I think of those who have dedicated themselves to the community, many fine Portales people come to mind. But I want to mention a special individual whom I greatly respect and admire.
Not long ago I had the privilege of attending a lunch honoring Ken Hubbard. He has spent his life serving his country and community. Without asking for anything in return, he has simply gone about his business making this area an even better place to live.
After serving in the military during World War II, Hubbard served our area for decades in addition to the hard work of running a business. This included nearly a half century helping the children of Portales through his work in Kiwanis. He also participated in the establishment of the Blackwater Draw Museum, Greyhound Stadium and so many more projects that have benefited all of us.
He has given so much for so many years.
Ken Hubbard is a hero.
Portales is a better place because of his contributions and caring attitude.
Personally, that infectious smile and those great stories have certainly made my life richer. So have his wisdom and quick wit.
The next time we start talking about heroes, think of outstanding people like Ken Hubbard and that non-traditional student. Or just look across the room — you might find a hero there, too.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: