Some people think that celebrities, pro athletes, movie stars or pop singers are heroes. But let me tell you about a real hero. I have known him for my entire life, but I did not really know him until I became an adult. When I was a child, he was a giant; he stood about 6 feet 3 inches and weighed a good 225. His hands were as big as catchers’ mitts, he had a booming voice and an outrageous laugh; he judged men on the “content of their character” long before 1963.
As an adult, I still consider him a giant among men, not because of his stature, but because of the content of his character. He was my favorite teacher. He did not spend a lot of time teaching me the three R’s, but he did teach me how to hunt, fish and work with my hands.
He was born on a small farm, the youngest of five children. He grew up during the Depression and served in the Korean War. He married at 20 and fathered three sons. Although not much of a churchgoer, he lived according to strong Christian values.
He taught me how to work hard and to sacrifice for my family. He spent most of his life on the road, often leaving on Sunday night and not returning home until Friday evening. Not until I became an adult did I learn to appreciate our Friday night games of catch, often while he was still wearing his wing tip shoes, suit pants and pressed white shirt.
He taught me about integrity. He made million-dollar deals on a handshake. He would say, ”If I did not trust the man, I would not do business with him.” So he lost a few deals, too.
His waning years have not been kind. Congestive heart failure and dementia have stripped his mobility and stolen most of his memories. Nevertheless, if you ask him how he is doing, he will tell you, “I am fantastic, but I am going to get better.”
He buried his first wife and two of his three sons, but if you ask him about his life, he will tell you, “I am the luckiest man to ever live.”
My hero is not a celebrity. He does not rescue damsels in distress or slay dragons. Until now, most of you have never even heard of him. But that does not mean he has not earned hero status. In my book, he is somebody who is admired for his outstanding qualities.
Those who know him call him Mr. Burroughs, Pop, or C.J. I call him Dad.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the real heroes, those men who sacrifice to raise their families; you have earned the right to be a hero in your child’s eyes, too.
Scott Burroughs is chief of police in Port Aransas. Reach him at sburroughs@cityofporta ransas.org or (361) 749-6241.