The Right Stuff Unit Directions: Read through these sample essays highlighting or underlining good writing. Look for places where essayists provide facts, reason, examples, vivid descriptions, definitions etc… As you examine these essays be thinking of ways you can incorporate good writing into your own hero essay. Essays come from the “This I Believe” website. “This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Some 100,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.” (http://thisibelieve.org) These are the guidelines for the essays:This I Believe Essay-Writing Guidelines
We invite you to contribute to this project by writing and submitting your own statement of personal belief. We understand how challenging this is—it requires such intimacy that no one else can do it for you. To guide you through this process, we offer these suggestions:
Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time.
Be positive: Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.
Be personal: Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
For this project, we are also guided by the original This I Believe series and the producers’ invitation to those who wrote essays in the 1950s. Their advice holds up well and we are abiding by it. Please consider it carefully in writing your piece.
In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.” We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 50 years ago. We are eager for your contribution.
Colin - Westlake, Ohio
Entered on May 26, 2010
Many people as well as I believe in a greater being out there somewhere, a significant person or various gods who have created us. Most of all, I believe that we have all been created to do something great in our life, if it is something small like helping someone or giving time to an organization. There are the many heroes we recognize all the time because we classify them as hero. Most common are our fireman, police officers, doctors, and leaders. We also have the heroes who protect this great country, the men and women who serve in our armed forces. All these people are classified as heroes if they want to be or not.
I have learned that many of these heroes do not like to think of themselves as one. Having uncles that are a fireman and police officers I have asked them if they feel that they are heroes. Both of my uncles quickly say “no it is my job to protect and serve the people of our community”. They say heroes are the people who do something thinking except for the thought that it is right and it has to happen.
I believe this is true but I also disagree with them because where would we be if we did not have our every day hero. We don’t have super heroes who comes flying through the air to save you at the last moment. That only happens in fantasy worlds of our favorite comic books and television shows. In our world our heroes are the people who we can all call on, and expect the best they can offer to help us.
Heroes have been a around since the beginning of time, though they may not have been labeled as hero but instead as leader, commander, or prophet. Since our species has been able to record history we have had some kind of hero. They did great things, stood out and made a difference for the better of their society. Heroes are a large part of who we are today and without Alexander the Great, David (from the biblical story of David and Goliath) Napoleon, and many others who pushed themselves to try and better our way of living as a whole. Other people then followed to try and become more like the heroes they praised, this is also called progression. Without this cycle we may not be where we are today.
I also believe that everyone has a moment to be a hero. That moment may be something small like returning something important to someone, like a wallet or car keys. Some people may have a different opportunity to be a hero in a bigger way like saving someone’s life. We all have a moment to be a hero the question is will you know when that moment is, and will you act on it?
I do not believe that my moment of heroism has occurred and I hope that I do not miss my opportunity. I do not want to look back on that moment when and say I missed my heroic destiny to change someone else’s life.
I Believe in Heroes
Sean - Beaverton, Oregon
Entered on February 20, 2011
I believe that heroes exist. Heroes are people who are willing to risk their life without considering the reward. Heroes are lifesavers who are always in the right place at the right time to help others. I know heroes exist because I was once saved by one.
I was three years old and my family took a vacation to the beach. We stayed for three days in a hotel with four bedrooms and three living rooms. The swimming pool was the most impressive part of the entire trip. It was always crowded, and I wanted to spend every second of my life in that pool. Each of the four waterslides seemed to go into the sky. My older brother and I were each too short to go on the waterslides, so we stayed in the kids section. The deepest part of the section was five feet deep, and I could not swim, so my mom said to only go where I could touch the ground. The water was warm, as the hot tub runoff water came straight into the pool. I was playing on a pole that went from one end of the pool to the other, and I was determined to make it to the other side. I grabbed hold of the pole as my family was looking the opposite direction. I started to climb across the pool, but just halfway there, my hands slipped. Everything went blurry as chlorine water filled my eyes and mouth. Just before I slipped, I noticed my brother and my family who were looking the other direction. I sunk directly to the bottom of the pool. I managed to open my eyes enough to see feet around me. I did my best to try and grab one, but I was too far away. My eyes now shut because it felt like they were on fire. These were my last seconds; my life was coming to an end. Just as I thought it was going to be over, my brother grabbed my hand and swung me out of the water.
My experience with a hero has impacted me every day of my life. Without the hero who happened to be in the right place at the right time, I would not be here today. This experience reminds me to make good decisions because I may not be so lucky next time I encounter a similar situation. The next time another person is in danger I will give them a hero to look up to. Anyone can be a hero with just a little effort. My brother is a hero.
Three Cheers For Our Everyday Heroes
Mark - Dorr, Michigan
Entered on May 23, 2009
What is a hero? I think most of us would agree that a hero is a person who uses strength or courage to face dangerous or threatening situations. Those situations can occur on the athletic field, a battlefield, or any other place we may find ourselves in. Recent years have seen some people voice concerns that we are lacking the heroes who used to inspire us. We no longer have John Wayne on the silver screen. We have athletes like Michael Vick serving time in prison for their lawless acts. We’ve seen some of baseball’s biggest stars sully their reputation and accomplishments when they were determined to have used performance enhancing drugs.
I don’t share that concern about our alleged lack of heroes. I believe that we all have a wealth of heroes in our life who are inspiring in their own ways. These everyday heroes are in our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities. We just have to recognize their strength and courage.
I have discovered one of those everyday heroes in my own family. My older sister, Chris, has been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a disease that attacks the motor neurons in a person’s body; the neurons that transmit messages from the brain to the many muscles in our body. ALS causes weakness and paralysis of the muscles of the body. There is no cure for ALS. It will eventually lead to that person’s death, with a mean survival time of three to five years.
The day my sister was told by a neurologist that he was 99% certain that she had ALS, she and her family shed a lot of tears. But once those tears were shed, Chris determined that she would not surrender to her illness. She would seek treatments to slow the progression of the disease, and she would continue to work as long as she was able. Chris said that since the disease struck her right hand she’s been doing her job with her left hand, and would continue to do so.
Today and every day Chris is battling ALS for her future—however long that happens to be. She’s displaying the kind of strength, courage and determination that is shown by those we have traditionally seen as heroes.
My sister’s display of strength and courage will not result in her getting the key to the city from the mayor; serve as the grand marshal in a parade; or have a medal hung around her neck. The world will not recognize her heroism because she’s not a hero in the traditional sense; she’s an everyday hero.
Should you find yourself bemoaning a lack of heroes in our society, stop and look around you. I believe you’ll see some everyday heroes in your life; people quietly showing great strength and courage as they face the hardships or threatening situations that come their way.
Who’s a hero in your life? This is a question my parents and teachers have asked me sometimes. I didn’t know for a while. When I was little, I used to say “Scooby Doo!” Scooby was my favorite cartoon character and he always saved the day. He constantly stood by his friends, even when he was scared. When I grew up though, I really thought about the question. Scooby Doo is awesome and all, but can a cartoon character really be a hero? I decided that heroes are people or animals that stand up to somebody or something harmful even if it’s powerful or popular. A hero can be brave by fighting someone outside, or by fighting something within themselves. I believe that there is always someone out in the world standing up for you or showing you how to stand up for yourself, even though you might not know it.
Heroes that I’ve witnessed are my friends and family. They’ve stood up for me against bullies at my school, helped me sort out my problems, and always are by my side. One time I was speaking out loud to my class for a science project about mosquitoes. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see three girls laughing at me. After I finished speaking, my friend told the girls to stop making fun of me, and the amazing thing is that they did.
People can have heroes in their lives without knowing it. I was in a class with one of my friends with three other girls that kept making fun of my friend. I told them after class to stop, and they did. My friend never knew I had told them to stop making fun of him, and he kept wondering what was wrong with them because they weren’t making fun of him anymore. When some people are making fun of me and the next day they just stop, I guess my friends had talked to them. This is a heroic thing.
Heroes can also be people or animals that show you how to be brave. I still have an animal hero. He’s my grandparents’ dog, a golden retriever named Alex. Alex has big brown eyes, long ears, a huge tongue that sticks out all the time, and only three legs. He had one leg amputated because he has bone cancer. He still loves playing ball and is always happy to see me even when he’s had chemotherapy or had to go to the vet’s. He’s my hero because he’s still enjoying life even though he has only three legs and is going to die from the cancer that’s spread to his lungs. That’s a heroic thing.
I believe that there are many heroes in everyone’s life: friends, family, and pets. Some heroes protect and stand up for you without hesitation and reluctance. Other heroes can show you how to do this yourself. This I believe.
This I Believe
Michele - Dowagiac, Michigan
Entered on October 17, 2007
Superman. Batman. Wonder woman. The Hulk. Can you guess what I am leading to? Heroes. What is a hero? What are some different definitions of heroes? Those questions cannot be answered completely. Different people think different ways. A hero to me is not someone with the ability to fly, shoot webs, turn invisible, or even immortality. It is someone that changes someone for the better. Someone who is there for someone whenever they need someone or they just need to be cheered up. With that as me definition I would have to say that I have a few heroes. By name they are Casey, Alyssa, Kayla, Jacob, Kyle, and Josh, but by title I call them my best friends. Feel that each of these people will always be here for me. They have all done something different to impact my life.
Kayla and Jacob. Because of them I am not afraid to be myself. They taught me that it is okay to open up to people. Not to be afraid of them. Don’t just trust the ones you have known forever. These two very different people are my shoulder to cry on.
Casey and Alyssa. Well I have known them forever. They have always been there. They taught me that no matter how much someone grows up if there is a connection then it will always be there. True friends are hard to find and when you find one you are lucky. I have found two and I will never let them go. They have been a backbone for me since second grade and they always will be until the day I die.
Last but not least, the two kids that I feel have changed me the very most, Kyle and Josh. I would not be the kind forgiving person I am today without these two. They taught me the love you can have for a person can actually be greater than the love you have for yourself. With the many times they screwed up I have told myself I would never trust them again but everyone makes mistakes and they taught me to forgive the people that do because someday you might make one and you would want the people who you care about to forgive you. The biggest thing they have taught me is that it is healthy to fight. Without fighting life will get boring. You cannot possibly be nice to everyone all the time. Life doesn’t work that way and that’s okay.
It doesn’t matter if it is superman or you best friend, a hero is a great thing to have. Without one you have no one to look up to. No one there to make you a better person. You and I are totally different. We think different. These are my heroes, no yours.
Heroes are normal people, in disguise
Cory - Owls Head, New York
Entered on December 8, 2008
A hero is someone who is always there for someone else. A person who drops everything they are doing to help someone else. A hero is someone who lives their lives to the sole purpose of helping someone else. Heroes help someone who is truly in need, even if the person does not ask for help. A hero is someone who inspires other people to help others.
My father is a hero, he is the chief of our local volunteer fire department, and I truly believe his is a hero. My dad goes to the aid of others anytime, day or night, and he is someone who really cares. My dad always tries to teach me, and my two other brothers, that it is more important to help someone else than it is to ignore a call for help. I believe that heroes should be honored, and recognized more often than they are. Many people are heroes and many of them are not recognized.
Heroes are everyday people who have two jobs. Their first job is the one they do every day. And the second job is the job of being a hero. These everyday people do not think of being a hero as a job, they think of it as a duty. These people give a lot of their time to volunteering and they do it for their love of people.
I believe that heroes are everyday people who are not recognized often enough. Heroes should be commended more often, and is wish more people would recognize a hero when they see one. My father is truly a hero, and in many ways, my dad has inspired me to become a hero.