Heroes Among Us
Cherishing Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
From Top Left: Riccardo Muti, Roberto Clemente, Maya Angelou, Karen Clay and Mike Phillips, Cam Perron (with an unidentified player from the former Negro League)
Independence Day was created in 1870 as a Federal holiday to celebrate the birth of the United States as an independent nation. I would like to take the opportunity of this time of reflection on freedom, responsibility and courage to briefly consider heroism, and share a bit about some of my heroes, past and present.
Typically, heroism involves putting the needs of others ahead of your own, at great risk or danger to yourself. However, as I have reflected on this definition, I realize that some of the people I consider heroes are those who have touched me deeply and inspired me greatly, though most did not do so by putting themselves in danger.
I think it is important to have heroes, to be inspired, and then aspire to be more like them in one’s own life. Here are some people who are heroes to me, and why:
Riccardo Muti Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1980-1992, he was a purist when it came to music…he would research little known circumstances or events of the times in which a composer had lived and a work was first performed. He was also known for conducting the music as it was originally conceived by the composer…even if subsequent changes had been made by other conductors over the years to cater to contemporary tastes, their personal style, etc. I am a purist at heart, and his commitment to the original truth and form of the music inspired me greatly.
Roberto Clemente He was killed in 1973 at the peak of his baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates while personally assisting victims of an earthquake in Managua. He was on a cargo plane carrying relief supplies when it crashed, killing all on board. That he died while helping others wasn’t the only reason Roberto inspired me; as a young girl, I had a difficult childhood…I immersed myself in following baseball, loving the gentle rhythm of the game. One Sunday, I attended a double-header at Forbes Field. Our section was located just behind Roberto in right field. I was in heaven! A bunch of us twelve-year-old girls were screaming his name…and he turned and looked directly at us, removed his cap and waved at us. I will never forget it. He was the kind of athlete you could look up to and be inspired by…both in life and in death.
Maya Angelou A Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Poet, her courage and eloquence have touched millions, myself included. Childhood sexual trauma, teenage pregnancy, years of single motherhood and racial discrimination shaped her, but did not defeat her. This quote from her has affirmed my own natural bent and has inspired me over the years:
I‘ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Mike Phillips and his mom, Karen Clay Recently featured on MSNBC’s “The Last Word”, Mike is a severely disabled 33 year-old man who wasn’t expected to live past his first birthday. He is cared for at home by his mother, Karen, who was also featured on the segment. They were discussing the personal impact deep cuts in the Medicaid program would have on the quality of Mike’s life. With no facilities in their state for someone with his disability, he would have to be institutionalized out of state if Medicaid discontinued his home care provision. His family would either have to relocate to be near him, or they would only be able to visit him infrequently. His courage, his zest for life, his charm and incredible eloquence had me in tears through the entire segment. That his mother has cared for him for over 30 years, and that, despite all that he has been through and all that he faces, he has a thoughtful, positive outlook on life, deeply touched and inspired me.
Cam Perron My husband, Leonardo, recently saw an interview with this young man. As a child, Cam, like me, was mesmerized by baseball. Though he was white, as a teenager, he became intrigued by the Negro Leagues – the often over-looked chapter of the game’s history. When he found that the vast majority of these Black players did not qualify for an MLB pension because of lack of documentation of their service time (proof of four years is required), he took it upon himself to research these players’ histories, and discovered more than 80 players who had qualifying experience. Due to his research and documentation efforts, Cam helped these elderly former players obtain pension benefits, and for many, it was literally a lifesaver. I love his dogged persistence in tracking these players down and winning their trust, and his incredible research skills. But many of these elderly Black players now consider Cam “family”…one calls him “Son.” So, what he does, he does with heart. I love that about him, too.
So…these are some of my heroes, and the reasons why. Who are your heroes? Why have you remembered them throughout your life…or why did they touch your heart recently?
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite essential oils that, at Her heart, is all about heroism…Laurel Leaf. She brings out the hero in us, helps us find our passion and gives us the courage to stand up for what we believe in. A great ally to inspire and support us! Put a little Laurel Leaf over your heart and have a wonderful, inspiring 4th of July!
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Shining Sun Aromatherapy is the Santa Fe practice of Audre Gutierrez. The content of these communications reflects my experiences, education, research and intuition, and is offered to support you in making choices that enhance your health, happiness and well-being. Please feel free to share my Essential Thoughts and Newsletters with others who might enjoy them, with attribution to Audre Gutierrez/Shining Sun Aromatherapy. Thank you!
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