This week’s edition of Most Heroic isn’t so much of a column as a bit of an thank you letter to a bunch of people who don’t get enough respect. I’m always looking for real-life heroes to write about, but this week when I was getting things together, something started to needle at me a bit. I think with the way the world is these days, there’s too much emphasis on speed and convenience and not enough on gratitude. Too many people around the world work thankless jobs and don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Heck, I work one relatively thankless job to pay the bills, so I know how it feels, but mine isn’t half as important as the others I’ll be talking about today. These are the people are heroes when they’re at their best, and are essential all the way around.

HeroesSince many schools have begun a new year this week, it’s only right that one of the first groups to get my little shout-out would be the teachers and other academic administrators. In my own humble opinion, teachers are poster image for unappreciated heroes. They’re the ones who help form the next generation by giving them a firm sense of education. The best teachers are able to encourage their students to love education, and make us want to learn more more about the world, and how we can improve it. Teachers don’t receive anywhere near the financial compensation that they’re due, because they pull a hell of a lot more than forty hours a week to deal with the students, their parents, and the pressure to have their class reach the right percentage for those awful end of year tests. Teachers are the people that we trust to help us raise our children I’ve been lucky enough to have fantastic teachers throughout my life, from kindergarten to college. Certainly some were better than others, but I’ll always tip my hat to them for everything they did for me.

HeroesCivil servants like firefighters and police officers do get a deal more respect than teachers, but they’ve got some responsibilities that some people don’t even realize. By assuming the role of our protectors in times of danger, they get to see the worst aspects of modern life firsthand. They see the victims of drug abuse, theft, rape, and murder all often. They see things that nobody wants to talk about and things that we have to live with uncomfortably. I’m friends with several police officers and firefighters, and the things they’ve had to face could serve as nightmares for anybody else.

HeroesWhich brings me to my next category: soldiers. I’ve talked a little bit about how soldiers are heroes before, but with the tensions in Syria getting worse, I feel the need to bring this up again. Our soldiers have already had to fight two wars for us over the past decade, and it seems very possible that they could be called to action again soon. Regardless of politics, I don’t think there’s anyone who would doubt the kind of courage and self-sacrifice that those men and women have to show day to day. Civil servants help the public knowing that there’s a possibility that they could be asked to give their lives, but for the soldiers in our armies, that possibility is much higher. They live under the idea of permanent sacrifice.

These are just a few of the types of people who deserve more thanks than they get. There’s plenty of other men and women who deserve recognition, and it’s up to us to give them the gratitude they deserve.

Thank you all.