Thanking Our "Hidden Heroes"

Shot of Marine Preparing Bodies for Burial


Last week, a good friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook. It moved me. Before I read the story below the photo, I got the gist. The uniforms behind Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes at Dover Air Force Base gave it away. An array of uniforms—to prepare for burial the bodies of the fallen soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.

Until now, the military has never let anyone see this picture. Sgt. Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right. When the bodies of the soldiers are returned home, service members wearing white gloves carry the coffins, covered in flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Services Medical Examiner.

I could hardly continue reading the story, but I went on. It said, “The Heroes are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.”

The uniform is prepared next. It will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. All medals precisely placed in proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket. The embalmers often work all night. Everything must be perfect even if it will be a closed casket. It doesn’t matter if the family will never see their work, these men do it for pride. “I do it for myself,” Sgt. Deynes says. “It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.” It occurred to me that men and women like Sgt. Deynes are “Hidden Heroes”—who serve the fallen ones. You never see them. You never hear of them. And there is no opportunity to thank them.

This got me thinking in a broader realm. Who are the hidden heroes in my life? Have I noticed them? Have I thanked them? Or more to the point, have I thanked them enough? These heroes are hard to see. Why? They’re the people in our lives hidden in clear view. It’s your spouse who not only stands beside you—but behind you—the best position to push you forward to achieve your dreams. Your sons or daughters who realized, long before you did, that your high expectations for them were actually a low bar compared to their achievements. Your siblings who spent your early life in your face—but the rest of your life—covering your back. Your friends who may not always understand you—but have never forgot what unites you. And your parents, who made all of those secret sacrifices for you—and it only dawned on you when it was your turn to make them for your children.

Hidden Heroes. They’re all around us. Look for them. Thank them. Join their ranks.


SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  Who are the Hidden Heroes in your life? When was the last time you thanked them? I have often noticed that there are so many thankless jobs in life. Thanking someone recognizes them, their worth, and their service. Are you a Hidden Hero in someone else’s life?

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