Today it is rather difficult to give a clear definition to the word hero. Different people define the word hero in different ways. Some people think that heroes are those people who are ready to give their lives for the country they live in and for the lives of other people, while others are sure that heroes are those people who are not afraid to protect their interests which are always of high morality. It seems that the soldiers fit the description of a hero perfectly, but the civilians can also be heroes. Heroes are always brave and selfless, persistent and optimistic. In our modern society, there are many heroes. Some of them were born with certain characteristics of a hero, while others became heroes during their life. Moreover, heroes are those who inspire other people to perform great deeds. Many true heroes can be found in literature, for example Beowulf and Heracles who devoted his life to help others. Many historical leaders can be regarded as heroes, for example Martin Luther King. In the modern world, firefighters and soldiers can be heroes as they risk their lives for the sake of other people. As a rule, heroes are honored by other members of the society.
There are different types of heroes. In the novel Bodega Dreams written by Ernesto Quinonez the main character Bodega can be regarded as a hero because his dream is to create “a professional class of the citizens of Puerto Rico”. He is at the head of the syndicate which develops and controls the politics, economics and justice system in Spanish Harlem. Moreover, Bodega hands out money for the needs of other people: for rent and tuition, and asks only loyalty in return. He is rich and well respected in the society, but his dream is utopian and eventually it comes crashing down.
In the poem Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane written by Etheridge Knight, the main character Hard Rock can be regarded as a hero because of his extraordinary deeds and his numerous followers. Moreover, his status ranks rather high among other prisoners. The exploits of Hard Rock are widely discussed. When he returns form the Hospital, Hard Rock’s fellow prisoners want to see the old traits of their leader. What is more important about Hard Rock is that he is not an ethically good hero. Knight writes, “He had been our Destroyer, the doer of things we dreamed but could not bring ourselves to do” (Knight 52).
In the essay The Train from Hate written by John Hope Franklin, the author tries to explain the role of racial inequalities in the life of blacks. The recollections of his first lesson on racial relations help the readers to understand injustice that lives in the hearts of many people. John Hope Franklin can also be regarded as a hero of his times because he has done a lot for his generation. He tried to explain people that racial discrimination has no place in our society. As a famous American historian, he published a lot of lectures on racial equality in the United States. Today John Hope Franklin in honored by the US citizens, many of which are his students. He wrote in his essay The Train from Hate, “At that early age, I had made an important journey. In the future, I remembered that I should not waste my time or energy lamenting the inability of some members of society to take me as I was. Instead, I would use my energies to make me a better person and to distance myself from the perpetrators and purveyors of hate and misunderstanding” (Franklin)
The above mentioned types of heroes prove the fact that in some cases virtue is not needed to be a hero in the eyes of some people. It means that a person can be a hero if he is in the right place at the right time. Today it is possible to become a hero in the right place at the right time. Saint Leo University gives an opportunity to its students to become heroes in the future because the university’s core values and mission are specially designed to develop the appropriate traits of character. Excellence and Integrity as core values of Saint Leo University help all students “to be honest, just and consistent in word and deed” (Saint Leo University, Official Site). The students of Saint Leo University not only develop their characters and learn the appropriate skills, but also they assimilate the vital knowledge essential to become morally responsible leaders who can be regarded as heroes of our times.