LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. — I was recently picking up a few items at a local retail chain at lunchtime. Everywhere I walked, someone wanted to shake my hand or say, “Thank you for your service.” It made me proud to be wearing the uniform of the U.S. Air Force.
While waiting in the checkout lane, I noticed a little boy shopping with his mom staring at me from his perch in the cart. I smiled and said “Hello,” but he just kept staring.
His mom apologized and explained he was crazy about people in uniform, and his hero was Captain America. She said he watches the movie over and over and puts on a little uniform to defend the house.
“I think that’s a good hero to have,” I said. As I answered, it got me thinking we need to act more like superheroes.
OK, stick with me here. That doesn’t mean that we should put on capes and masks and climb to the top of the roof to see what dastardly deeds need to be thwarted. Your spouse would most likely tell you to “Get down before you hurt yourself,” and “Take off that getup before the neighbors see you.”
What it does mean is we need be worthy of kids’ admiration — like a superhero. So, here are a few things about superheroes we need to know:
1. Superheroes never believe their own write-up. They are humble (except when fighting a bad guy) and neither flashy nor boastful. They save the day and retreat to their secret lair (office or flightline in our case).
2. Superheroes help people. Whether it’s a neighbor needing help painting a fence, or the lady in the grocery store that can’t quite reach that box of cereal, we need to lend a hand.
3. Superheroes are respectful toward the public. They have manners and say “Yes sir,” or “Yes ma’am,” and open doors for people at restaurants.
4. Superheroes have lives kids can look up to. They don’t lie, cheat or misuse government credit cards. They set examples for others to follow, and they do the right thing even when no one is looking (sounds like “integrity” to me).
5. Superheroes are always there. They always have their friends’ backs no matter what else is going on, even in the dark of night (sounds like “service before self”).
6. Superheroes are in shape. Have you ever seen a chubby superhero? The bad guys would kick his butt. The public wouldn’t have much confidence in an out-of-shape superhero, would they?
7. Superheroes always do their best. You’ll never see a superhero slacking, or saving only enough people to make it look good. They give it their all every time, and people take notice (sounds like “excellence in all we do”).
If you have ever seen the movie “Hancock,” you have seen what a superhero is not. The protagonist, at first, is all about himself — he’s a drunk with a bad attitude, thinking he is above the law. The public has no faith in him, and he quickly loses faith in himself.
With the help of people who care about him, he becomes the superhero that, deep down, he knew he was capable of becoming. Maybe you know someone who, with a little help and direction, can live up to their potential (sounds like “leadership” to me). Sometimes he or she is the person in the mirror. Realizing it, facing it, accepting it and working on it are often the most heroic actions of all.
The point is that when you’re off base and in uniform you are easily recognized as a member of the U.S. Air Force. Kids look at your uniform and are in awe; parents look at you and hope that their son or daughter will follow in your footsteps, and seniors thank you and appreciate that you’re continuing to carry the torch to keep our country safe.
We should all act as though we’re in uniform even when we’re not and display the same hero-like qualities we’re capable of, no matter what we’re wearing. Let’s all act like superheroes and truly earn the respect and admiration we’re given every day. Think about it.