Even if you are a Kerry person, the rest of this article about heroes is damned good.
And now I'm thinking of my grandpa again, and how I still miss him terribly after so many years, and how much I wish that my daughter could have known this man. He went to war so young, came home and married the stepdaughter of another man in his unit, and worked in the coal mines. He survived a fuel-oil stove flashing back at him, and eventually left his family to go work on a Corps of Engineers project several states away just to escape the coal mines and support his family. Then, he found a job at Alcoa, moved his family to join him in a big old house, and survived being exposed to the machine that xrays aluminum. His hair turned white when it grew back, and he went back to work, even every Christmas day for the overtime...see, I could identify with Dickens' Cratchetts, because we waited every Christmas day for Grandpa to get home before having dinner and opening presents. He worked hard, went hunting when he could with his three-wheeler to help get the deer out of the woods, drove big Olds Ninety-eights, and was, most importantly, our grandpa. When he finally retired, the cancer took him slowly.
And never once did I ever hear him complain about his lot in life.
My brother and I were the luckiest. Since my mom was the oldest, and she had us when she was so young, we had him the longest. My oldest cousins are nearly fifteen years younger than I, and my youngest cousin is younger than my daughter. The younger ones never got to see how special grandpa was, because they weren't old enough to understand.
But I do, and I wish that I could be half the person he was.