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The word hero was coined in 1387 and finds its roots in the Greek word h~ros.

It refers to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will of self- sacrifice.

Being a sports fan, it is easy for me to think of David Freese in the 2011 Major League Baseball Playoffs or Michael Jordan’s shot at the buzzer to beat the Cavaliers in 1989. We casually use this term, hero – whether it be a great sports moment or for someone at the office when they’ve helped us meet a deadline. In some respects, I think the term has become watered down.

My own thoughts about the definition of a hero is someone who without thought of their own personal safety, does whatever it takes (including willingly giving their own life) to protect or save another human being. Recently this hit home on a personal note when I attended the funeral of a good friend and fellow Sheriff, Cody Carpenter. Scott County Arkansas Sheriff Carpenter and Game and Fish Officer Joel Campora drowned while trying to save the lives of two women who were trapped in the raging flood waters of Mill Creek. Both men gave their life attempting to save two people they did not even know personally. These men embody the true definition of hero.

I am sure you can imagine the spouses’ somber faces of each of the Sheriffs who came to honor Sheriff Carpenter. One of them remarked that had the flood been in their own county, it could have easily been their spouse for whom they would be grieving. She was right — and not just about it being a fellow Sheriff. Any law enforcement officer, whether City, State, County or Federal, would have willingly put themselves in the same situation.

Our law enforcement and military personnel go out every day and place themselves in harm’s way to protect people they do not even know – and every day, their spouse, children and loved ones wonder if they will return home safely.

Let’s not wait until someone makes the ultimate sacrifice of their life before honoring them with the term, hero. Let’s make it a point to recognize and honor all of the brave heroes who walk amongst us every day and keep us safe.

To the families of Sheriff Carpenter and Officer Campora, I pray that you will find healing and peace. To my friend, Sheriff Carpenter, I know Heaven has a special place reserved for all of the brave heroes like you.

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