It was a big news week, full of ripe topics for columns. Gov. Paul LePage attacked the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which will surely fill that organization’s coffers. Hillary Clinton’s finally launched a full-scale assault on Donald Trump’s main weakness, which is his unfitness to be the commander-in-chief.

But I don’t want to talk about politics this week. I want to talk about heroes.

On Memorial Day, we spent the morning with others in our small town, gathered at our local high school because of the rain, to honor those who gave their lives so we can remain free. We heard moving stories of Mainers who lost everything to protect the people of this country and the democracy that we practice.

As I sat there listening, I could imagine millions of others across the country doing something similar. I could see parades and speeches. Gratitude, reflection and tears. And it felt good to be a part of a larger community remembering those brave soldiers.

A series of other images flashed across my mind of all the people in our lives who are also heroes, in their own way. Most aren’t risking their lives for us, but they still deserve our thanks. Many of them are obvious, like firemen or public safety people. But there are some who can be easily overlooked. Here are the ones that I was grateful for, that morning.

Single parents.

Anyone who has children, or who has made their own parents miserable, understands what a huge and consuming job parenting is. Doing it as a single parent is not twice as hard — it’s 10 times harder. Unless you’ve walked in those shoes, it is nearly impossible to comprehend how hard it is. Single parents who raise kids well, hold down jobs, try to improve their lives and keep themselves from going over the edge are the great unsung heroes among us.


Teachers today are not only preparing the next generation for the responsibilities it will inherit, they are helping our kids navigate this rapidly changing world we’re living in. And too often they’re doing that without the pay or respect or resources they deserve.

Coaches and volunteers.

Across Maine, thousands of parents are volunteering their time and energy to help kids grow through sports. They are the glue that holds together Little League, youth football, winter basketball, lacrosse, summer camps and hundreds of other self-sustaining organizations that give kids positive experiences and productive time together, teach them to work in teams, try their hardest and be a good sport, even when it hurts.

Older students.

I am always delighted to hear of someone who is holding down a job or a family but is somehow managing to take night classes somewhere, learn a new skill, get their GED diploma, attend a technical college or university. Those things are hardest to do for the people who need them most. People who are juggling limited time and resources, family and jobs. But they push on and do it. And they inspire others around them.

Small-business people and entrepreneurs.

Over 90 percent of Maine’s jobs are in small businesses, and they didn’t just spring up like mushrooms after a warm rain. Somebody had an idea or worked their way up, took a chance, overcame their fear, suffered sleepless nights and still got up and made that company happen. They may be the only employee in the company, or they might now have others making it go, but every one of them deserves a holiday in their honor.

People with heavier loads to carry.

All of us are the product of a series of accidents. The accident of birth is the first. Were we born into poverty or comfort? In a country with free schools or with child labor? Did we awake in a loving and stable family or a broken one? Did we have the good fortune of a healthy body and mind? Is our path forward an easy one, lined with flowers, or is it a steep upward climb out of the darkness?

All of us start at different places, and then make our way from there. People who have more challenges to overcome, through no fault of their own, and who still succeed, are a special kind of hero among us.

I have known all of these people in my life, and I bet you have too. Think about them the next time you’re feeling discouraged about the future. They are, in some ways, our best hope for tomorrow. They’re also an inspiration whenever you need one.

I’d like to hear your ideas on who you’d add to this list.

Alan Caron, a Waterville native, is the owner of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” and “Reinventing Maine Government.” He can be reached at:

[email protected]

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