What defines a superhero?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mitchell Narte
  • 21st Security Forces Squadron

When you think of superheroes, what comes to mind?  Superman, Batman, Iron Man, or how about Captain America?  Those are all correct answers. However, what if I told you we had real superheroes walking among us in our everyday lives?  You’d probably tell me that’s crazy talk, that there’s no such thing as REAL superheroes, but, here at the 21st Space Wing, we do. The brave men and women who are our frontline responders.


In my own childhood, Superman was my superhero. Flying to save a plane from crashing or saving a damsel in distress by picking up a train with his super strength. His heroism is what made him great. Additionally, he faced any challenge head-on without any fear in his heart. Much like Superman, our frontline responders brave whatever challenges they face, especially while battling the current COVID-19 pandemic.  


This is a challenging time not only for our country, but for our entire world. Mass quarantines, loss of loved ones, businesses shutting down, parents not able to see their newborn child or friends and family not able to have social gatherings.  Let’s face it, the world is a mess right now, but there is hope.


In the film Man of Steel, Lois Lane asks Superman what the “S” stands for on his chest. Superman responds, “It’s not an S.  In my world, it means hope." Superman is not defined by the symbol on his chest, but rather, by the embodiment of what that symbol means. Our frontline heroes are the embodiment of that hope. There have been various stories of these men and women making sure every single person is taken care of and protected. One story from TIME magazine highlighted an encounter with a frontline responder and telling them, “Without y’all, this city would be shut down.” That line speaks volumes, because without them there would not be a glimmer of hope to see another day.


Service before self, our second Air Force core value, is what these brave men and women embody, going above and beyond the line of duty and risking their lives every single day. 


In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and it became what we know now as Police Week. Police Week has always been a time where different agencies, as well as the general public, get the unique opportunity to meet those who work in law enforcement. It is an experience unlike any other.  This year’s events during the week will be adjusted in accordance with our physical distancing guidelines, but there will still be great events going on for the entire family to enjoy.


Why is Police Week so important? It’s important because we are honoring those who have served before us, those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who are currently serving. It also gives us the opportunity to honor not just our great Security Forces members, but also all of our doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and of course, our local police officers.  We are also expressing our unending gratitude to everyone who is putting their lives on the line protecting our families and defending our communities.


So what defines a superhero? It could be a person who performs heroic deeds that no normal person could ever do. It can also be defined as being able to uplift not only themselves but those around them, by overcoming fear, prejudice and bringing hope to those in need. If you asked me who my superhero is, I would tell you that during my childhood it was Superman but today, it is our frontline superheroes.