Is Michael Phelps a hero?
He sure seems like one.
Perhaps I should ask the bigger question: Are athletes heroes? Or is that title reserved only for people like firefighters and soldiers?
Is it more heroic to save a life or to inspire one? To keep the body from dying, or to breathe life into the spirit? What defines a hero?
Heroes are not always bigger than life, but they are always bigger than the situation that they are placed in. They set the standard in that moment. Some heroes protect our lives and property. Some defend our rights and freedoms.
And, some heroes, lift our spirits and show us that what we thought was impossible, is achievable. They give life to that voice inside each of us that longs to cry out "I am here!"
They raise us, sometimes momentarily, sometimes eternally, into the realm of immortals. They move us to find the greatness inside of ourselves, and to share it with the world.
When you climb to the pinnacle of your world, you are a hero.
When you can bear the weight of a nation upon your shoulders, and still stand straight and tall, you are a hero.
When every boy in America wishes he were you, you are a hero.
So, the answer is yes.
Michael Phelps is a hero.