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October 21, 2013

HOWEY: Heroes and leaders through the Peyton prism

When I scan the Washington horizon, I see few, if any heroes, at least in their current stations.

There are good people who go there to change the world, then go native once they're in the club. They fail to accomplish the peoples' business.

Heroes are often presidents and generals. But in World War II, it was the grunts and captains who kept the destroyers running or took out the Nazi artillery. I remember the shoe store owner on my paper route in Peru, Ind., who had a limp. I later learned he did so because of the frostbite he sustained near Bastogne. I had a grade school classmate in Michigan City 50 years ago who told me harrowing, seemingly unbelievable tales that her family had endured. I later discovered she was a daughter of the Holocaust.

I watch members of the General Assembly name highways and bridges for their "heroic" members, when it's the troopers, deputies and EMTs who save lives on those berms and in the ditches.

I scanned the horizon for heroes as Peyton Manning came back to Indiana this weekend.

How can I compare a football quarterback to a Medal of Honor winner? Or to Rick Genth, the Elkhart firefighter who lost his life a generation ago trying to save people from a flash flood?

I do so when I ponder the other continents on our little planet. In many of these lands, the flesh and soil are torn by artillery and bomb-laden vests that sneak into crowded bazaars. Innocents are showered with sarin and mustard gas. 

In 2011, I had the rare opportunity of coming face-to-face with "Victory," the beautiful statute that stands atop the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in the heart of Indiana. She was disassembled at Stout Field, as artisans repaired the cracks in her bronze castings after standing over our state for 117 years.

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