When you think of heroes, who comes to your mind? Is your hero a fictional character like Superman? Is your hero a leader in your profession? Is your hero a religious icon?
Or, is your hero, someone you have had more personal access to? Is your hero someone who you know well and in several different contexts? Perhaps your hero is a multi-faceted human being who is adored by many and only truly understood by few. This is the kind of hero that I want to tell you about today. This is a family story, one of my Dad’s stories about the bond between him and his Uncle.
Today is Veterans Day. Today is when we honor, recognize, and celebrate all the heroes (sung and unsung) who have served in our Armed Forces. I know that my Dad always thinks of one person in particular on this day, his Uncle Glen. Glen E. Baker started his military career as a private in the Army during World War II. He served in Europe, he was present at Normandy on D-Day. He returned from the War with a chest full of medals that he never liked to look at. His extraordinary military career spanned his lifetime and he retired a Brigadier General. As a young boy, my father worshiped him. Later in life they would become good friends.
When my Dad was looking for ways to put himself through college, he signed up with the ROTC in Florida. After he graduated with his degree in Architecture, he moved to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia to fulfill his two-year service contract with the Army as was required. He also went there with his wife, my Mom. He was looking forward to it because his Uncle Glen was serving with NATO at the time and lived nearby. They got to spend time together and their relationship grew into a true friendship. He remembers talking to Glen about his various experiences (good or bad) as he was having them in the Army and every time he would get the same cheerful response, “That’s good experience, Jack!” Dad feels Glen was always looking out for him.
One day, rather “out of the blue,” General Cassidy, Chief of Engineers at Ft. Belvoir asked my Dad to be his personal architect, which he happily agreed to. My Dad knows that this was probably not a lucky coincidence. In this role, he was able to gain valuable experience that would later help him to quickly establish his own architecture practice. When my Dad’s two-year service was completed, he went to see the re-enlistment officer. They offered him a choice of assignments in Greece or Ethiopia. My mother was not too excited about either of those options. She was now caring for a baby, my sister. It was 1964. When my Dad sought advice from his Uncle Glen and General Cassidy, they both encouraged him to take his architecture experience and education and start his own practice back in Florida. He decided not to re-enlist and was “mustered out” of service. A few days later, there was a freeze on discharges and all of the men in my Dad’s battalion were assigned to Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam. Some never came back.
It’s impossible to say what would have become of my Dad if he had not altered his own course at that critical time. Besides being kind-hearted and creative, he is also very resourceful and independent. Here’s a little side-story to give you an idea of the kind of soldier my Dad was. While he was serving at Ft. Belvoir, he was involved in a training exercise known as “Escape and Evasion.” The guys were all blindfolded and taken out into the woods. The blindfolds were removed, but they would have to find their way back to base on their own and avoid being caught by the “enemy.” If they were caught they would be tossed in a mud pit of some sort. Anyway, my Dad had a good natural sense of direction. He broke off from the rest of the group and quickly found his way to a local road, hitchhiked his way back to his apartment, had a shower and meal and reported back to base in a clean starched uniform. When the rest of the guys returned, they were all exhausted and covered from head to toe in mud and quite surprised to be greeted by my Dad looking so pristine and cheerful.
I can’t really entertain what might have happened if my Dad had been sent to Vietnam. It is quite possible that I would not ever have been born. Our fates are an accumulation of a million choices, only some of which are our own. All I know is that I am so grateful to my Great Uncle Glen for being such a powerful, amazing, and inspirational hero to my Dad and everyone else who’s life he touched. I am also eternally grateful to him for encouraging my Dad to choose a different path, not a better path, but one that I know in my heart fit him better. I think my Dad knew he was not destined to be a soldier like his Uncle, but he was willing to try it on because of him. I give him credit for that and am proud of him for his two years of active duty and six years as a reservist. I am thankful for the service of all of our Veterans, and for the people who continue to serve, not just today, but every day. They are my heroes in that they do what I can not, what I know is necessary in order for me to enjoy the freedoms I have. They inspire me to never take those freedoms I enjoy so much for granted.
Like the story of my Dad and his Uncle, our heroes are not always meant to be replicated. Who you are is influenced by your heroes in that they will reveal to you your greatest potential. Your heroes will inspire you to recognize your own strengths and encourage you to build on them. They don’t want you to idolize them, they want you to learn from their example.
So today, your challenge is easy. Recognize the heroes in your life. Identify how they inspire you. If you can, thank them, and share with them your kindness.
Your Creativity Coach,
Bonnie Kelso is the creator of The ABCs of Conscious Creating. She uses energy healing and creating exercises to connect people to their higher “creative” selves. For more information about her services read about her ACCESS! program or to schedule a consultation please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you ready to vitalize your creative life?