“Hero” is a word that we throw around too much and attach it to people who don’t really deserve it. Home run champs who turn out to be ‘roid monsters, movie stars who play heroes on the screen even while they’re villains off the screen, etc. Steve Taylor had a song years ago that has stuck with me all this time, about the difference between real heroes and pretenders:

When the house fell asleep there was always a light
And it fell from the page to the eyes of an American boy

In a storybook land I could dream what I read
When it went to my head I’d see
I wanna be a hero
But the practical side said the question was still
“When you grow up what will you be?”
I wanna be a hero

Hero
It’s a nice-boy notion that the real world’s gonna destroy
You know
It’s a Marvel comicbook Saturday matinee fairytale, boy

Growing older you’ll find that illusions are brought
And the idol you thought you’d be was just another zero
I wanna be a hero

Heroes died when the squealers bought ’em off
Died when the dealers got ’em off
Welcome to the “in it for the money as an idol” show
When they ain’t as big as life
When they ditch their second wife
Where’s the boy to go?
Gotta be a hero

The song ends on a good note, when the boy finds a hero for all time in an old book.

There are real heroes in the world, though it usually takes some digging to find them and a good person with a good memory to remind us of them. Michelle remembers a few heroes from the LA riots, a bleak time in American history that happened 15 years ago today.