Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re constantly surrounded by heroes. Our heroes serve on the front lines to protect our freedoms, answer the call of duty, arrive on the scene in emergencies, and represent our communities as loyal friends and neighbors. During American Heroes Week, we recognize the heroes we know for the sacrifices they give to make our country a better place.
For instance, take Sergeant Matthew Odom from Norman. Stationed as a part of the 1st Batallion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Ukraine, Sergeant Odom and his team were on an R&R trip through the city when they passed an apartment building that caught fire. Immediately putting their skills and emergency training to use, Sergeant Odom and his team ran into the apartment building filled with smoke to rescue those trapped inside. This past week, hundreds in Oklahoma City filled the Armed Forces Reserve Center to help celebrate their heroism and safe return to American soil.
In Antlers, there’s Ray Olivis. Ray was on his way home when he saw smoke billowing out of his neighbor’s house. Instinctively, Ray jumped out of his truck and ran into the house to find it full of black smoke when he heard a faint cry for help. His 92-year-old neighbor was injured and unable to escape the fire when Ray rescued her. She was taken to the hospital by emergency responders and was said to have been pulled from her home just in time to recover. The neighborly duty of checking in on another turned into an act of heroism in a matter of minutes.
In March, hundreds of Oklahomans paid tribute to Police Officer Justin Terney from Canadian. Living out his lifelong dream to serve the people in his community, Terney died in the line of duty at just 22 years old. He is remembered for his passion to protect those around him from harm. Dedicated to a life of service, Justin’s sacrifice will not soon be forgotten.
As Americans, we are all instilled with a certain amount of heroism. We teach our kids to love thy neighbor and encourage acts of kindness to those that we know – and the strangers that we don’t know. This week, join me in celebrating and honoring the heroes we know because an everyday act of heroism is the true meaning, and a perfect example, of the Oklahoma Standard.