Who do you think of when you hear the word “hero"? Superman? Batman? Aquaman? Wonder Woman? (She's one of our favorites, of course!)
Those are all superheroes from comic book and movie fame, so it's only natural that some of them might have come to mind upon hearing the word “hero." However, did you know that you don't have to have superpowers to be a hero? It's true!
In fact, some of the biggest heroes throughout history were just regular people like you and me. If you saw their pictures, you wouldn't think “Hero!" right away. But upon hearing their stories, you would definitely conclude that their actions were heroic and worthy of the history books.
One of the things we like best about studying history is learning about the people who shaped history. Sure, some of those people were larger than life and influenced events due to their position. Former United States Presidents, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, would fall into this category.
But there are millions more ordinary people who have taken heroic actions and made a difference in the lives of others over the course of time. Some of these people performed courageous acts in the face of unbelievable odds in a moment's time to save lives. Others may have worked thanklessly for years for a cause that benefitted others years in the future without ever reaping the benefits themselves.
Do you have a favorite hero from history? What person stands out to you for their actions that helped others? It all depends upon what you think of as a hero. In the distant past, the ancient Greeks and Romans used the word “hero" to describe courageous men whose actions brought favor from the gods.
Heroes are broadly defined as those people who act voluntarily in service to others or in defense of an ideal. Moreover, heroes act knowing that they risk their own health or reputation with no expectation of anything in return.
There are some other qualities that many heroes tend to share. Here are some of the qualities that might define an individual as a hero: bravery, selflessness, courage, sacrifice, perseverance, compassion, nobility, excellence, commitment, leadership, decisiveness, expertise and humility. Which of these qualities do you think make up a hero?
Historical heroes can include great warriors, courageous explorers, innovative politicians, clever inventors, and dedicated police officers, firefighters and doctors. From Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman to Isaac Newton and the police officer who patrols your city streets, heroes can be found throughout history and even this very day.
As you study history in school, give some thought to the people you learn about. How did they shape history? Which of them would you consider heroes? Could you have done the same thing in your shoes? Could you be a historical hero one day?