We all have our heroes. Professional sports athletes. Movie stars. TV show stars.
When I was younger, I was in a rough spot in my life. Who am I kidding? I was bullied, abused and poor. Going to the food bank just to hopefully make it early enough that we could get food. Enough to feed the 7 of us. Ducking the gang of bullies waiting to beat me up on the way home. I wore my brothers hand me downs and was relentlessly tormented by the kids at school because I didn't have the latest fashions.
Burdens of growing up in a community of rich folk and going to a wealthy school district when your family is poor and lives in the same zip code. It was rough. I was constantly trying to find guidance and solace any way I could. No friends to speak of, because who wanted to hang out with the poor kid that smelled weird because his family didn't have a working washer and dryer?
My heroes, the only ones I could find were in comic books, movies, TV shows and cartoons. Daredevil and Captain America. G.I. Joe and the Autobots. Knight Rider, McGyver and the A-Team. Those were my friends. Those were my role models.
Years later, I overcame it all. A Paramedic, A Navy Hospital Corpsman, A Firefighter, A Police Officer, A Husband, A Father, A Friend, A Brother. I became, my own hero. Putting others before myself. Helping those that felt like I did. Being there for those, who had nobody. Like I was once. In the position of desperation, feeling like there is no help in sight.
Now, I am a successful Author and Businessman; I am in the position to meet my heroes that helped me get through it all. Heroes like Kristy Swanson and Michael Rooker.
In 1992, I was in 8th grade. It was one of the worst years in my life. My alcoholic relative was beating the hell out of my sisters and I, My 2nd brother was off for the Army ending Desert Storm/Shield with his unit. Mom and Dad cared more about Church and bible study than fixing the family. It was a hell of a time. I managed to sneak out one weekend. Instead of delivering my newspapers, I took my tip money and walked five miles across the bridge and down the highway to the movie theater to see a movie.
I had seen the previews on TV and it had caught my attention. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was filled with nothing but awe. Here was this girl. Lost, trapped in a world of popularity and ignorance. Maybe feeling somewhat oblivious to the plights around her, and BOOM! She finds out that she has a super power. She is there to rid the world of evil. For her, it was popularity and vanity, only to find out she can save the world. She went from stereo typical cheerleader to a hero.
I related on some strange facet. I was poor, abused, ignored and bullied; but what if? She went from "Top of the food chain" to hero. A Strong, independent female Alpha that wouldn't let evil win. What if I could go from a poor, abused, bullied weakling to the same? Later that year I became a First Responder and a member of Search and Rescue team. Leading to Emergency Medicine, the Military, Fire Department and more.
I have always held a place in my heart for Kristy Swanson. Not in a creepy way. She was so strong in that role, that it inspired me for years to come. She still does. I had the fortune to meet her recently at Steel City Comic-Con. I was in attendance selling my latest Fiction Novels and signing autographs as she was there doing photo-ops and signing autographs as well. I approached her and got an autograph and picture taken with her. I was completely star struck, but I think that I hid it well.
The next day at the hotel bar, I am outside getting some air with some friends, and she walks out of the door. Standing no more than a foot away from me. She joins in on the conversation, and I am still flabbergasted that the woman that pretty much kept me going all these years is standing next to me. Somehow, the conversation turned to Military Veterans. A dear friend, "Skippy", mentions that he, another and I are all Veterans.
She hugged every single one of us and thanked us for our sacrifice. She went on to tell us how much she appreciates and is grateful for us; and of how her and Actor Gary Sinese do charity work for the Men and Women over seas in Afghanistan.
On screen and off screen, this woman is still my hero. Compassionate and kind. I now know for a certain, that I was right to hold her in such high regard.
Then, there is Michael Rooker. A class act ALL TO HIMSELF. In a good way. ;)
Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead, Jumper, Stargate SG-1, The Dark Half...
This man has been in so many movies that I have seen that I can't keep count. I first saw him in "Days of Thunder" with Tom Cruise. To be honest, I REALLY loved his character more than I did Tom's. Sorry Tom. Not everything can be Top Gun, Edge of Tomorrow or Jack Reacher. Which, side note; "Top Gun 2" Really?
Michael Rooker has the ability to take any role he plays, and make it HIS! Good guys, Bad guys; Michael can portray it to perfection! It feels like Michael can take any character he plays and get into their head and know what they would be like. Feel how they would react. Whether it's "Mr. Svenning" in "Mallrats" or "Merle Dixon" in "The Walking Dead". Michael brings the character to life.
Michael and I both belong to a fraternal organization called Z.E.R.T., The Zombie Eradication Response Team. Over 20K strong worldwide and growing. It is a group of people that bond together over training, survival techniques and emergency preparedness. So when I found out he was attending Steel City Comic-con, I just HAD to meet him. I got my autograph, and had my membership card in hand. "I hear that we're both Brothers..." I say to him playfully. He sees the card and laughs. "I know. We're EVERYWHERE." I respond. He shakes my hand like a man and embraces me under his arm to take a picture.
On the last day of the convention, my son was with me at my booth. Michael is in the aisle behind us and my son spots him. "Yondu!" He shouts at Michael! I can't be certain of what happened next, because my view was obstructed, but it looked like a cool, "Hey Lil' Man" finger point! And my 6 year old was head over heals. "Daddy! Yondu! Yondu said hi to me!" The grin on my boys face couldn't have been any bigger.
The world needs heroes. Whether they're actors and actresses. Sports figures or celebrities. And of course the women and men in uniform on the streets and in the service. Our heroes, protect us. Give us inspiration. Set examples of how AWESOME humanity can be. If it's either on the silver screen or on the streets; heroes can change the world.
CEO Spike Bowan is the Pittsburgh based Actor/Director/ Author/ Creator of the Alternate History Genre/Fiction saga "War in the Backyard".
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