Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor (Romans 13:7 TNIV).

Perhaps heroes are a special breed, but I don't really think so. They are decent people who do bold, honorable, or courageous things when put under extreme pressures. They do under duress what has been ingrained in their normal life routines. Take Chuck Lindberg as an example.

Mr. Lindberg is not to be confused with the famous aviator. He was a Marine during World War II, and only within the past few years has the story of his heroism been widely told. Lindberg was in the group of Marines who helped raise the first American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

If you have mental images of the famous flag-raising that became the model for the Marine Corps Memorial statue in Arlington, Virginia, Lindberg isn't one of the figures in it. That scene was actually the second flag-raising on Iwo Jima. The second one came some four hours after the one Lindberg shared.

Only in 1995 did the Marine Corps set the record straight. On the morning of February 23, 1945, Mount Suribachi was captured by the Leathernecks. Corporal Lindberg, 24, and five other Marines raised an American flag on a long pole they found after fighting their way to the top of the mountain. The scene was photographed by Sergeant Lou Lowery. About four hours later, the iconic photo by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal was taken with a larger flag.

Chuck Lindberg was a hero that day — along with others who did not raise flags, get photographed, or even survive the battle. Both he and they were doing something courageous under extraordinary conditions. They were pursuing a cause they believed was noble and just, and they acted with the sort of honor and bravery that had been instilled in them.

Anyone today who wants to be a hero must practice for the role.
Anyone today who wants to be a hero must practice for the role. You practice for being heroic by being honest and keeping your word, telling the truth and fulfilling commitments, being on time and doing your job, spending time with your children and teaching them how to treat their other parent respectfully, aging gracefully and battling cancer, paying your bills and treating others with respect. People who train to live this way under ordinary circumstances are the ones who act with decency, integrity, boldness, and bravery when the chips are down.

I really don't mean to be cynical, but it bothers me that we are more into Paris Hilton's stint in jail than the death of someone such as Chuck Lindberg. We produce more “stars” than good examples. We hold TV competitions for idols and pin-ups and make fun of the honest soul who returns a briefcase undisturbed or gives back the extra change a befuddled clerk hands across the counter.

Chuck Lindberg moved to the Twin Cities and became an electrician after the war. For years, lots of people thought he was either delusional or lying about helping raise that first flag. Then the record was finally clarified.

The last surviving flag-raiser of Iwo Jima died on June 25, just two days short of turning 87. Thank you, Mr. Lindberg, for your heroism — and for causing the rest of us to think about what it takes to be heroes in our circumstances.