Hidden Heroes: Recognizing Those Making Positive Impacts on Our Lives and the World

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What do Superman, Batman, Daniel Boone, Sheriff Matt Dillon and Andy Griffith all have in common? Let’s think about it. Superman and Batman were always fighting evil and saving the world, Daniel Boone was taming the great frontier, Sheriff Matt Dillon from “Gunsmoke” was protecting Dodge City and last, but certainly not least, Andy Griffith solved any problem in a professional manner and made nearly everyone happy in the process. So, what do these characters have in common? Well, they all are heroes. No matter the issue, they all were fighting to make their world better in some way.

We all have heroes growing up and even in our adult lives. I’ve looked up to and respected many people throughout my life. Quite a few have traits I valued so highly I strive to incorporate them into my own life. Most of us have watched as children observe and then imitate actions, both good and bad, of adults they encounter. It’s a natural progression in the development of a young person’s life. For me, as much as those fictitious characters were heroes to me, it’s safe to say my mom and dad were truly the first heroes in my life. While I’ve grown older and they both have passed, they will forever remain heroes in my eyes for the sacrifices they made in order to make life better for me and my brothers.

See more: The Journey Is Just as Important as the Destination

You don’t have to watch the news every night to have heard the term “essential worker” just a few times over the past several months. It’s very quickly become a common phrase we all use, but I believe the phrase doesn’t necessarily follow a common person. Truth is, these essential workers are our real-life heroes. I don’t just mean during the pandemic either, I mean all the time. And if I could, I would say one of the greatest blessings of recent times is a revived gratitude in us to honor them.

Prior to the pandemic, I think some of the people closest to us on the “frontline” weren’t getting the recognition and honor they deserved. Many continued fulfilling their daily obligations just as they did prior to the coronavirus, but there has been a renewed appreciation for them based upon the various duties they sacrificed to perform during the crisis. Healthcare providers, policemen, firefighters, transportation workers, manufacturers, food service employees, food processors, farmers and many others continued doing what heroes do – serve others, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Todd Littleton

Photo credit: Jeffrey S. Otto

As you might imagine, among the most important heroes to me are those involved in agriculture. Men and women who sacrifice themselves, their families and their time to ensure we have an abundance of food from which to choose. I firmly believe the 90,000 farmers we have in Tennessee are heroes. Just as Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne concealed their identities as Superman and Batman, our farmers have no intent of seeking recognition for what they do. They possess the courage to farm even when the financial risks are great, the work is difficult and the recognition and appreciation is minimal. I’ve often heard farmers jokingly say, “If it were easy, everyone would want to do it.”

I’m not implying I’m not appreciative of those fighting for our freedom, our safety and our well-being. The overriding trait of a hero is to provide a sense of security to those around them. Many deserve credit for our national security, but I suspect few include farmers in that category. However, the ability of our country to feed our citizens is a luxury many others around the world don’t experience. I for one hope and pray we always keep it that way. I also hope you’ll join me in doing a better job of not taking that luxury for granted, even in these unprecedented times.

I think I can speak for most of us when I say 2020 has been a roller coaster of a ride thus far. And really, who knows what is ahead for our country and our world. It can be a little scary considering the circumstances, but I do think it has elevated the significance of someone’s impact on our lives. So, I challenge each of you to identify and say thank you to anyone who has had a significant, positive impact on your life. Perhaps more importantly, I challenge you to live your life in a manner so you will be someone else’s hero.

About the author: Jeff Aiken is president of Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He and his wife, Carol, work tirelessly to advocate for farm families across the state. They also remain active with their family farm in Washington County.

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