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Heroes


In the mid-1960's, little Jimmy Bradley sat in his third-grade classroom staring at a picture on page 98 of his history book; it was a picture of his father. The photograph depicted six soldiers planting a flagpole into the rocks of Iwo Jima, one of the soldiers was Jimmy's father, John Bradley. 

Bradley is the man the second from the right, his elbows extended, firmly holding onto the 100 -pound flag pole. He appears to be supporting most of the weight, as the others help guide it into its resting place. This photograph became symbolic of World War II and Jimmy's father was a part of history. There he was, right in the middle of the photograph on page 98 of Jimmy's history book.

Jimmy's teacher drew the class's attention to the photograph on page 98 and to the man in the middle of the picture-Jimmy's Dad, and said, "John Bradley is a hero, and his son is sitting right here with us." Jimmy was as proud as any son had ever been of his father.

That night, he couldn't wait for his Dad to come home from work. When he came through the door, Jimmy cried out, "Daddy, Daddy, come here, there's something I want to show you." John Bradley walked over to his son, saying "What is it?" "Right here Daddy, on page 98, it's your picture. My teacher said you are a hero. She wants to know if you'll speak to our class."

Jimmy was surprised by his Dad's reaction. "Come over here and sit down," his Dad said. Sitting next to his Daddy, Jimmy knew that his Dad was going to tell him the story. "Jimmy," his Dad said, "your teacher said something about heroes today, and well . . ." John Bradley paused as Jimmy stared into his eyes. "The real heroes are the men that came back in body bags." That was all he said. No war stories. No embellishments. Just, "The real heroes are the men that came back in body bags." Today we remember those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Those a true hero, calls heroes.

(Reader's Digest, November, 2000, p. 125-129)



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