A True Hero

imagesIndependence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Why?   I guess because it’s about getting together with family and friends for picnics and barbecues, everyone bringing something to share, lazy summer days and warm nights. And, of course, fireworks.

Working with military families, helping them sell or buy homes, is a natural part of my business since I live in San Diego, a very military town. I am proud to call the many military families I have helped “my clients” and love helping them. They hold a special place in my heart.

When my husband was raising the flag on the flag pole in our yard the morning of July 4th this year he had the opportunity to talk with one of our neighbors. When he told me about the conversation, it struck a chord with me. And, later in the day when our neighbor stopped by, I learned what makes a true hero.

Ron is in his 80’s now. He has been married to his best friend and soul mate for about 60 years. Ron is a quiet man, pretty private. He is an old school kind of guy, always polite, never would tell an off colored joke in front of a “lady”.  I have been “Miss Terri” to him since we have known him, about 18 years I guess.

Ron doesn’t share too much about himself. It comes out in spurts, over years. I knew Ron was an orphan, but did not know much else about his childhood. Turns out his birth certificate reads “Infant Male Unknown Last Name”.  Ron didn’t have a name growing up. He was in orphanages and foster homes pretty much his entire childhood. No one ever gave him a name, not a real name. He was called things, but never by his name.

He was in and out of foster homes until he finally stayed in one place. He had a foster-brother, son of his foster parents, and he liked this brother.  When he moved to San Diego  and wanted to join the Navy, he found out he had to have a name on a birth certificate. His brother’s name was Donald, so he took Ronald as his name, along with the brother’s last name. Imagine being 18 years old and finally having a name.

Ron served four years in the Navy during the Korean “Conflict” (never was called a war). He was even in shark infested waters for 16 hours once.  He has never wanted to call attention to himself and talk about his time in the Navy. Talking about it yesterday brought tears to his eyes.  That’s a tale for another day.

So why is Ron a hero to me? This man overcame a childhood that no one should have to endure. He served his country with honor. He married a wonderful woman and they have a great marriage, are devoted to one another. He owned a successful business and raised a family.  He doesn’t seek recognition of any kind, nor does he want it. He is just an everyday kind of guy. The kind who make this country great.  He is my hero.

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