Are you a Nero, Zero or Hero?

  • Published
  • By Col. Travis Harsha
  • 721st Mission Support Group commander and CMAFS installation commander
Questions and stories are powerful ways to convey messages. I still remember my high school principal, Wayne Hines, asking our entering freshman class, "Are you a Nero, Zero or Hero?" and explaining its meaning.

On a normal bell curve, from left to right, fall Nero, Zero and Hero.

For Nero, think class bully. Based on the Roman emperor who burnt down much of his empire, Nero is someone selfish, undisciplined and destructive. Left unchecked, Nero's negative behavior destroys morale, unit cohesion and readiness.

Much less destructive but not putting forth any more effort than absolutely necessary, Zero aims for mediocrity and usually achieves it. Just squeaking by, Zero barely seems to exist and wants little to do with the team. Uninspired and uninspiring, Zero is forgettable.

And then there's Hero, the role-model Airman who epitomizes Air Force core values. Hero does the right thing (Integrity First), is dedicated to his team first (Service Before Self) and always strives to be the best (Excellence In All We Do).

Proud, professional and positive, Hero is who everyone wants on their team. Hero brings out the good in others and is always ready, willing and able to answer the call when needed.

Nero, Zero, Hero...a simple story with a simple message. Be a Hero. Make a difference. Aim high and do not accept mediocrity or the status quo. Be involved, be positive and never underestimate the impact one person can have to make a difference in the world. If you have not seen it yet, watch the film "Pay it Forward" for what some do to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. After you watch the movie, I challenge you to "Pay it Forward."

With an all-volunteer force and our country at war, I want to thank each of you for making a difference and inspiring me. What can be more noble than selflessly willing to lay down your life so that others may live in freedom and have a safer and better world? Thanks to our loved ones for their daily service, sacrifice and support. Your love makes us stronger and reminds us why we serve.

Thank you veterans for "paying it forward." All of you are Heroes in my book.