My family came to this country from Europe and settled in Cleveland in the latter part of the 19th century. Being an inquisitive child I encouraged my parents and grandparents to tell me stories about their lives.
Both grandfathers were storytellers and didn't need much encouragement to talk about themselves and their lives. These stories have stayed with me throughout the years. I wish I had written them down as they were told to me. Memory has a way of erasing some things as we get older.
I know that my family consisted of ordinary, hard-working people. There were no doctors, lawyers, politicians or CEOs in my background. They were people who lived their lives without notoriety, who struggled to make ends meet, whose successes were noticed only by family, friends or neighbors.
There were no photographers at their funerals and their obituaries did not contain any major accomplishments. They were ordinary people who lived ordinary lives. I considered them everyday heroes because their struggles, hard work, love of God and country paved the way for those who came later to enjoy better lives.
In light of the circumstances which played out earlier this month, I realize how many everyday heroes there are in my hometown. Many times ordinary people overcome extraordinary circumstances, often with the help of those they do not know. I have written of the need for citizens to become involved in the life of their community, to get to know your neighbors. This is so important in today's society.
I salute all the everyday heroes in my life, in this community and in greater Cleveland. To get involved, to help others in their time of need may be the greatest gift you can give.