People of certain professions are easy to recognize because of the clothing they wear. For example, medical professionals have long been associated with white lab coats. Police officers and firefighters also wear distinctive uniforms. Journalists are not recognized so much by what they wear as what they are carrying when covering a story, such as a notepad and pencil, a digital recorder and cellphone.

Many people are recognized not by the clothing they wear or the tools of their trade that they carry, but solely by their selfless actions. An example of just such an individual is someone who is recognized for having performed a heroic act. And as it turns out I know of such a man.

My brother-in-law, Steve, and his wife, Heather, own an ocean front home in the small, North Carolina community of Oak Island.

Typically in years past Steve and Heather would rent out their beautiful residence to vacationers who desired to be for a week within a stone's throw of the Atlantic Ocean. This year, however, Steve and Heather decided to make their home available to different members of the family for a week at a time. Members of the Henley clan who took advantage of the opportunity were my daughter, Amber, and her husband, Shawn, and my son, Jacob, and his bride, Whitney. My wife, Nancy, also spent a restful week there with two of her siblings.

One of Nancy's favorite pastimes at Oak Island was wading in the water in search of beautiful shells. But even my bride's desire to find the perfect shell would not drive her to go much beyond knee deep in the brown water. Part of Nancy's caution centered around reports of visitors being caught in rip tides and being pulled away from shore before assistance could arrive on the scene. One such rip-tide incident would have had a familiar and tragic conclusion would it not have been for my nephew, Paul.

Paul, who was spending a week recently at Steve and Heather's beach house, was out on the beach one day when he heard cries for help from a mother and her son who were being pulled away from shore by the strong current. The former lifeguard, who is now in his 30s, knew exactly what to do and soon had them back on shore.

There is absolutely no doubt that my nephew, because of his life-saving efforts qualifies as a hero. But one does not have to put their life on the line to save another's life to qualify as a hero in my book. Consequently I believe my family features multiple heroes because of their selfless acts in my behalf: my daughter, Anna, who has dropped everything on more than one occasion to help scrape me off the floor following one of my falls; my daughter, Amber, who is paying for a help service for me to contact when I need assistance after a fall; my son, Jacob, who has invited Nancy and I to move in with his family; my son, Caleb, who has performed numerous household projects and has been willing to "daddy sit" me; and of course my wife, Nancy, who literally does anything and everything imaginable to keep me functioning despite Parkinson's.

I believe heroes are all around us. It is just a matter of learning to recognize them.

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