Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Life Is Beautiful, Life Is Full Of Heroes

Just like you, I have many heros.  I have historical heroes, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, etc.  I have military heroes like George Rogers Clark and my twenty nine American Revolutionary ancestors.  I have sports heroes like Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, and Jackie Robinson, I have family heroes like my mother, my husband, and my daughters.  What I want to share though, are what I call ordinary heroes.  These are many times the greatest heroes of all.  To become an ordinary hero to me, it requires a person to stand toe to toe with LIFE and overcome the obstacles that are thrown at people, through nature, politics, or health.  They are people that face things bravely without taking the easy way out and giving up.   Let me share what I mean by describing three ordinary heroes.

The first one is a young Chinese man, probably in his early twenties.  I will never forget the images that I saw on June 4, 1989.  Television aids us in expanding our experience, and on this day I watched in awe as this brave, seemingly small, very young man, defied huge military tanks, and he would not move out of their threatening path.  The world was witness that day of him waving his arms, and refusing to move.  The event was the Tiennaman Square Massacre in Beijing, China.  A group of young students were protesting the government’s human rights policies, or the lack thereof.  It was also an open defiance of the People’s Liberation Army Troops.  And finally,the protest of the Chinese Communist Government.  Finally, some men, or soldiers charged in and dragged him out of the way of the tanks.  No one knows what happened to him, or even what his name is.  It is supposed that he was incarcerated in a prison or jail as a political dissenter.  Did he survive his ordeal?  No one has ever answered that question.  Hundreds of others did not survive that day as they were massacred in the streets of Beijing.  The young man will probably always be anonymous, but in my eyes he is not forgotten.  I can recall that scene just as vividly today, as I saw it in 1989.  It was the start of slow changes in China, and this young man sacrificed so much for what he believed in.  He is one of my favorite heroes.

My second hero is a woman John and I met in Cheyenne.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and we had traveled to Cheyenne on our Harleys.  It was a nice fall day and we just wanted to get out for ride.  We parked our bikes in front of Hardee’s and went in for a break.  There was a couple sitting there enjoying the afternoon and we got to visiting with them.  She was the same age as I, and she was in a wheelchair.  You could tell she had had some hard knocks in life.  One of her legs had been amputated due to diabetes.  She was very outgoing and jolly and pleasant to visit with.  The man was her ex-husband and he still looked after her and took her out occasionally for an ice cream cone.  She told us about the wheelchair ramp he built for her, and how she had to be careful going down it because it was so steep.  She chuckled as she described her technique for doing that.  It was sort of like hanging on for dear life to the sides of the ramp.   He said, “Well, there IS a fence at the bottom and that would stop you if you got to going too fast.”  She came back with, “Yes, but I don’t really want to look like a WAFFLE.”  We all laughed at her good humor.  She could find something humorous to share with everyone, and she was a fast thinker, too.  I never saw her again, but I will always remember her brave way of facing what life had dealt her.  As I climbed on my Harley to leave, I thanked God for the blessings he has given me, especially my good health.

My third hero is an older lady that John and I observed in Fort Laramie, Wyoming.  We had recently bought our Toyota Chinook and had taken it out on a camping trip to test it out.  We pulled into the little campground in Fort Laramie and set up our camp.  Across the campground we noticed an older couple camping in their tent.  It was in the fall, and the weather was pretty cool.  This didn’t seem to bother this couple though, they slept on the ground in their sleeping bags.  He must have been in his late 80's and she was not far behind him.  We chatted with the owner of the campground and she said the couple had been camped there for about a week.  They were from back east and had decided to make one last trip across the country.  They had collected coins for years and this was how they financed their trip.  They sold coins as they went.  She said that they were the toughest people she had seen in a long while.   

The next day as we were preparing our breakfast in the Chinook, we watched as the lady brought out her camp stove and pots and pans and set them up on the picnic table.  She was very methodical in her meal preparation.  She had apparently done this many times before.  I was impressed with how she had everything in order and moved so efficiently as she cooked.  I will never forget the sight of that lady, carrying on her cooking in rather inconvenient conditions.  She had a nice countenance and seemed to be perfectly happy with her lot in life.  I am sure she had handled many challenges in life — and she had survived.
These are the kind of people I like to remember.  I don’t know their names, or where they live, but they made an impression on me and in a way became a lesson for me.  They were brave, met the challenges life dealt them, and kept on trying.

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