Real Heroes

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world. KVD has 4 Bassmaster Classic wins and 7 Angler of the Year titles to his name. 

Hopefully you're in the creeks catching fish and taking advantage of the nasty fall days that come our way. In most of the country that pattern should hold through Thanksgiving.

In the meantime I'd like to take this opportunity to say a little more about our military, as well as the other men and women who keep us safe, and what they do for us. I mean, I really feel strongly about this. Without them we'd have nothing.

At the same time I want to say something about what a real hero is, and how we should think about using the term.

As I said a couple of weeks ago we had the privilege of hearing from a wounded Afghanistan vet at our Strike King dinner. I'm not going to go into all the details of his injuries but I'll tell you that it's something most of us can't even imagine, and even if you could you wouldn't want to.

He was critically injured by an IED and had to be carried to a nearby marijuana field. (He couldn't walk because part of his leg and foot had been blown off.) His fellow soldiers actually laid over the top of him to keep enemy snipers from shooting him while he hid in the foliage.

They did this even though his wounds were so severe they didn't expect him to live. That may not make sense to some people, but it does to them. They don't give in, and they don't give up. It's not in their nature. It's not the way they live.

Those men are heroes.

Sometimes when people come up to me in the weigh-in line, at the ramp or maybe in a restaurant they'll tell me that I'm their hero. I never correct them – I know they mean well – but I'm not a hero, not in the real meaning of the word.

I may be a role model, someone who's in the public eye and whose actions are critically reviewed by the public. I may be an angler who, through my experiences and my successes, can help other anglers catch more bass and have more fun on the water. My conduct may influence others. I'm conscious of all that and try to set a good example for others.

I am not a hero, however.

Our soldiers fighting the wars are heroes. The men and women who provide emergency medical care to them under hostile fire are heroes. The men and women who went into the World Trade Center to save people from the flames are heroes. Local firemen who crawl into a flaming house to say a baby are heroes. Policemen who risk their lives to save ours are heroes.

Without these men and women our lives would be very different. They're living proof of what I mean when I say it's all about the attitude.

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