This week during a work meeting, the topic of heroes was brought up. An in depth discussion followed, in which everyone had the opportunity to talk about the people who had inspired or influenced them, and ultimately shaped their futures. I used that opportunity to explain that in many cases, I am less drawn to the classic heroes that have dotted our rich history, either as Americans or as Humans. Instead, I explained, I tended to reserve my admiration for those who served as mentors and teachers to these historic figures. The people who shaped them. The people who they looked up to as examples. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the negative response I received. Some people openly scoffed at my perception of a hero and challenged my judgment at choosing those I had, to serve as my examples. Many felt I was not being "realistic" in my assertion that these individuals deserved just as much credit as those whom they had guided to greatness. Nevertheless, my mind remains unchanged. I felt even more resolved to share with others, my appreciation for these lesser known persons, who if nothing else, have inspired me to be who I am today. #1 - So little was known about my first hero, that we have nothing more than his last name and of course his legacy, to remember him by. His name was Mr. Miyagi. During the early 80's when Mr. Miyagi happened across a young Daniel LaRusso. He saw some greatness there that others had either missed or ignored. He determined then and there to make Daniel into the man he was meant to become. In the end, Daniel learned a lot more than Ka-ra-te and the perfect execution of the crane-kick. He learned the true meaning of what it means to ask ones self "Live or die man.... Live or die?" #2 - Colonel Sam Trautman. Don't recognize the name? Well I'm not surprised. But I can tell you one person who hasn't forgotten who Sam Trautman is. Maybe his name will sound a bit more familiar.... John? John Rambo? Whether he was drawing first blood, stick fighting in a Cambodian brothel, or mowing down Russian's along side Afghanie warriors. Rambo would be the first to tell you he had learned every bit of it from Col. Trautman as part of his secret training to become a Green Barret. I for one will never forget his role in extending the lives of the innocent, and abruptly ending the lives of evil doers, world-wide. #3 - And finally, some may argue that Punky Brewster is not actually a hero in the traditional sense, but that is a decision you will have to make for yourself my friend. But I doubt any reasonable person will argue the heroic status of Henry Warnimont, her adopted caregiver and psudo grandfather. Here's to you Henry! I will never forget how you found Punky break-dancing in the empty apartment across the hall, or the time you took that humiliating job at mall, and had to wear a camera helmet. Yours was a voice of reason throughout those turbulent adolescent years. Not just for Punky, but for all of us.