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Summary: Sermon honoring firefighters, police, EMT’s

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These Heroes Are No Sandwiches

The June 14, 1999 issue of Time Magazine offered a list of 20 people they considered to be heroes of the last 100 years.

Some of those names I recognized and possibly agree could be considered heroes, names like Billy Graham, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, and the American G.I..

Still others listed I question their being called heroes. Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, or the Kennedey’s. I guess it would depend upon your definition of the word “hero”.

Still others were names that I didn’t recognize and had to look them up to see what they were known for. Names like Emmeline Pankhurst, Bill Wilson, or Harvey Milk.

If I were to ask you who your heroes were, what names would you give me? Would I recognize any of those names? How do you define the word hero? I have my own definition but I had to look up the word in a dictionary just to see how “they” defined what a “hero” is.

Of course, just as each of us may have different ideas or definitions, the dictionaries I looked in had different definitions. My 1946 edition of Webster’s dictionary says that a hero is “a man of distinguished valour or intrepidity”. Then, of course, I had to look up “intrepidity”. It means, “fearless bravery in danger”, “undaunted courage”. Good definitions, I think.

Then, in Cody’s Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hero is, “one that is much admired or shows great courage”.

Finally, in my Random House college dictionary a hero is defined as, “a man regarded as having heroic qualities and is considered a model or ideal” and “a small loaf of Italian bread”.

It is interesting to me how our definitions of hero have been modified over the past 57 years. We have gone from “fearless bravery in danger” to “one that is much admired” and “a small loaf of Italian bread”.

September 11, 2001 changed our definition of hero again, I think. On that day 2 planes crashed into the twin towers, 1 into the Pentagon, and still another crashed in a field in Pa.

Immediately after each crash, Police, Fire and Emergency Medical personnel rushed to the scenes. As hordes of people were fleeing these scenes, these men and women were rushing in to help protect the innocent and rescue those who were injured. In the hours and days and weeks that followed, I think we came to understand what the word "hero" really means.

We haven’t seen heroism on that scale in a long time and I think it was obvious that we, as a nation, had forgotten who the true heroes really are. For some reason, we had been putting that label on people who could play sports, sing songs or act on TV or in the movies.

But on September 11th, we learned who the true heroes are. On that day, we discovered that:

• True heroes aren’t the ones rushing for touchdowns, they are the men and women who are rushing to the scene of a burning building, or an automobile accident – willing to risk their own lives to save the life of someone else.

• True heroes are not recognized because they wear baseball uniforms, they are recognized as the men and women in Police, Fire, and EMT uniforms. They are the ones who are wearing the uniforms of our various branches of the military.

• True heroes aren’t the people who take center stage at a concert, they are the ones taking classes in their spare time so that they are trained to the best of their ability when they come to your aid.

• True heroes aren’t the ones wearing gold medals on their chests, true heroes are the ones with the badges on their uniforms.

• True heroes aren’t the modern day pop stars driving around in their big limousines, they are the officers driving around in cars that promise to “protect and serve.”

On September 11th, we redefined what a hero is and who our heroes are. That is why we decided to have this special service today. Although the men and women here today would probably deny the idea that they were somehow “special” or “heroes,” we recognize in them the selfless sacrifice that is inherent in heroism.

The members of the State Police, the Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, Emergency Medical teams, or the Armed Forces aren’t in this for the money, they aren’t in it for the glory. These men and women have stated that they are willing to put their lives on the line for us – that if it came right down to it, they would be willing to sacrifice their own life in order to save the life of another person.

God’s word tells us that that kind of commitment is very rare. He says “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person someone might actually die.” Paul is telling us that it is very difficult to die for someone else. The general thought process is, if we do give our lives for someone else, we would like to think that they “deserve” our sacrifice. We don’t want to “waste” our life, our sacrifice, for someone who hasn’t earned it.

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