1) a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability 2) an illustrious warrior 3) a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities 4) one that shows great courage 5) the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work 6) the central figure in an event, period, or movement 7) an object of extreme admiration and devotion: idol
In a nationwide survey a few years back, Jesus Christ was the person most often listed as a hero, followed by Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, John F. Kennedy and Mother Theresa. Over half surveyed mentioned a public figure, others their fathers, mothers or other relatives and friends.
The major reasons for naming someone a hero were: Not giving up until a goal is accomplished; Doing what’s right regardless of personal consequences; Doing more than is expected; Staying level-headed in a crisis; Overcoming adversity; Changing society for the better; Willingness to risk personal safety to help others; Commanding the support and respect of others; Not expecting personal recognition.
The views of our nation have changed since September 11th. More and more, firefighters, policemen and military men are referred to as heroes. We will all agree there were heroes aboard Flight 93 that day, men and women who foiled an additional terrorist plan.
The qualities of a hero include willingness to sacrifice, determination, loyalty, courage, dedication, intrepidity, valor, selflessness, conviction, focus, gallantry, perseverance, fortitude, bravery and integrity.
A hero isn’t always a man who sets out on a grand quest. Sometimes he’s the ordinary fellow who works an extra job to pay for his son’s college or his daughter’s wedding. Sometimes he’s a man who never raised his fists or fired a gun, but who sets a silent example of faith and a standard of honesty by the way he lives his life.
When we think of the heroes portrayed in our genre, we immediately think of John Wayne and Henry Ford, Wyatt Earp and Marshal Dillon. But there are unlikely heroes, too, such as Froto and Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Clint Eastwood’s William Munny in Unforgiven. Remember Sally Field’s character in Norma Rae? How about Erin Brockovich? Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird tops every list of favorite movie heroes.
In talking about the heroes of our books, what qualities do some of our favorite authors think a hero needs?
Catherine Anderson says: “…one absolutely necessary quality a hero must always have is not good looks, suavity or physical strength, but incredible wonderful irresistible heart—an intangible s something that enables him not only to love deeply, but to live for love, sacrifice everything for love, and even die for love if necessary.”
Dorothy Garlock insists,” My heroes have high moral ethics and are always faithful.”
Pamela Morsi says the most important thing is “the hero’s willingness to make a commitment. All other obstacle can be overcome, but only a man who can marry and live happily ever after can be a hero in romantic fiction.”
Alexis Harrington said, “A hero doesn’t need to be perfect—I’d rather have a man with human frailties ad self-doubts. But despite his imperfections, he must have a nobility pf spirit that gives him the ability to recognize his own flaws, to see the good in others, and ultimately, to do the right thing, regardless of the cost to himself.”
Lorraine Heath mentions, “A hero should always be willing to sacrifice what he values most in order to ensure the heroine finds happiness.”
Joan Johnston likes her heroes to be “physically strong and emotionally vulnerable.”
Cheryl Reavis states, “My hero must always take care of his children. I can’t abide a man who shirks his responsibility for his child—I don’t care what the reason; and a man willing to take responsibility for a child that is not his is really a hero to me.”
The stuff heroes are made of is powerfully attractive to the woman who eventually wins his heart. Who is the perfect hero in my book? Well, the one who has all the qualities mentioned above—and looks like Hugh Jackman to boot.
Some of my favorite heroes are Rye Dalton in LaVyrle Spencer’s Twice Loved, Reed Tyler in Pam Morsi’s Courting Miss Hattie, Luke Turner in Lisa Gregory’s The Rainbow Season, Laghlan Mackenzie in the late Arnette Lamb’s Highland Rogue, Dylan Harper in Alexis Harrington’s Harper’s Bride, Charlie Cochranin Kate Hathaway’s Bad For Each Other, and Theresa Weir’s Nash Audabon in Long Night Moon – and the list just goes on an on.
Did I mention any of your favorite heroes or authors? Who are the heroes who stand out in your mind—either in real life or your favorite books?