As we pause to consider those who serve, the gray of semantics bends a knee, of deference, to the black and white of right and wrong. We will honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice while wearing a uniform — and those who offer themselves as a living sacrifice, to make this world a better place.
In war and peace, there are heroes recognized for their bravery with medals of metal — and, there are those unsung heroes who exhibit their mettle, by always doing the right thing.
Each family has its traditions. With the passage of a quarter century, the movie Silverado is one of ours. The movie was released the summer of 1985, the birth year of my daughter, Lindsey. Superficially, it can be enjoyed as a shoot-’em-up Western. Its deeper themes are what make it a classic.
From the script are these three memorable quotes:
(Stella): The world is what you make of it, friend. If it doesn’t fit, you make alterations.
(Paden): I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is — don’t make much difference.
(Stella): From what I’ve seen, Paden doesn’t seem to care about money.
(Cobb): Ha! Paden doesn’t seem to care about anything — except, he does. You just can never tell what it’s going to be.
Have you ever noticed how heroes, real and fictional, are always so calm, cool, and collected? Right up to the moment of action. At that instant, all of the thought, planning, training, practice, and preparation is executed in a burst of laser-like focus. There is absolutely no ‘should we – shouldn’t we’ or ‘will we win – will we lose’ to their efforts. Our heroes, simply, do what is right.
Agreed, there are two moral issues at work: Character and Ethics.
Heroes do care, a lot. They care about their core and all of those whom they touch. They believe life is best experienced from the Inside, Out. Heroes can be recognized by what they are: Patient, Kind, Truthful, Protective, Trustworthy, Hopeful, and Perseverant. Those seven qualities are inherent in the Love they offer to all.
Regardless of the religion, or belief system, there is always a stated set of principles. In fact, the principles have existed long before anyone thought to write them down. The short version of all the tomes is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Now, we come to the question for all of us, “Who, or what, is our God?”
For the judgmental types among us, I can boldly assure you that the answer to that question will be different for each of us. Even for those sitting in a church pew, your view of God is different from those on each side of you.
The secret to answering the question, though, is to realize that our choice is singular. There can only be One, whom we serve.
At some point in all of our lives, we will bend, if not break, that rule. We will want to have our cake and to eat it, too. We will burn the candle at both ends. We will high-center on the fork-in-the-road.
Ultimately, we will learn: No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.
Once we decide to risk all to make things right, then, Teddy Roosevelt eloquently describes the effort — To Do.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but, who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The three hyperlinks above are to the text of the full speech. Depending on your reading preference, the first is to the original website, the second is a PDF conversion of that site, and the third is a PDF document — printed in a larger font. Click on the hyperlinks, only if you want to be a better Citizen and of greater service to others. In the time of a thirty minute Sitcom, you can read a fitting tribute to great Citizens of the past, present, and future.
One of my heroes was named after the fellow who provided a home for my grandfather — who, at nine years of age, was already practicing the core principles of the Man in the Arena. My grandfather ran away from home to escape a wicked step-mother. James Burnett, senior, (J. M. Burnett) accepted Charles Arthur Foard, as one of his sons. My grandfather honored him by naming my dad, James Burnett Foard.
Jim Foard expressed his love for life by practicing the words credited to Jim Burnett, “I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”
Once again, through the lives of our heroes, the choice becomes obvious. Within our control is the choice of Right, or Wrong. Heroes, by word and deed, provide an example for us to follow — while, we are in their tutelage. In time, the choice will be ours, alone — to make, live, and share with others.
Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on members of the United States armed forces who distinguish themselves — conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. It is made of Gold.
The poster images, above, of the movie Silverado contain these expressions of inspiration:
Get ready for the ride of your life. Four strangers became friends. Four friends became heroes. On the road to… Silverado.
A dangerous place, in a lawless time… ‘Til four friends risked all to make things right. Ride with them to the adventure of your life!
For all of us, there is a beginning and an end. A tombstone reflects that. It is impossible to change our beginning. At any moment, though, we can write a new ending — to the movie of our life. In the same way that the dash on the marker of those who have fallen is of finite length, so is our time.
While uncertain of the length of our race, we can choose our Exit Strategy. Whether a shoot-’em-up Western, or the real life sagas, I’ve noticed that the Good Guys & Gals always win. Each moment, of every day, they win.
Sometimes their accomplishments are judged to be failures by the critics. Yet, our heroes take the lessons learned into the next battle. When the entire world acknowledges their success, our heroes defer the honor to all of those who were participants in the victory. They rest in the assurance that we have happy memories and will remember them, forever.
While gold medals are reserved to honor those who have sacrificed their life, let’s consider the silver to be a worthy recognition for the living — a reminder to present ourselves as a living sacrifice for the benefit of others. All will give some — and, some will give all.
Within the name is our mantra: Silver-A-Do. Let’s ride!