Most people appreciate a good story, especially the kind where the “bad guys” lose and the “good guys” win. We know that the hero might go through a lot in the process, but it's all worth it in the end, when our hero emerges victorious. Who doesn't love a happy ending?
The story itself is beautifully uncomplicated, at least in the way we react to it. The hero is introduced, and we immediately recognize him, thanks to both his understandable actions and his handsome appearance. The bad guys, in contrast, usually have unreasonable motives and not-so-handsome looks. Sometimes, the bad guys are even so bad that we are happy when they are done for.
In contrast to the “good guy”/ “bad guy” stories we enjoy so much, real life is often quite complicated. There are many gray areas that are not easy to understand or explain. The heroes don't always look like heroes, and the bad guys don't always advertise their badness. And there isn't always a nice clean ending to the story.
In real life, people are often reluctant to be referred to as heroes... even when they have gone way above and beyond what others normally do. They feel that they do not deserve to be known as a hero, because they were simply “doing their job.”
While we can certainly appreciate the humility and dedication of many people we call heroes (who would never call themselves heroes), we can also understand the fact that it is good for such people to be recognized. Not only does this show them our gratitude for their service, but it also gives others joy in hearing about them, and courage to follow their example.
Despite the gray areas of life, despite possible misgivings about the wars our country is or has been involved in, or the results of those conflicts, on this Memorial Day let us take a moment to honor those who do not call themselves heroes, who are simply doing their jobs, and those who have done their jobs for many years to protect the freedom we all enjoy.