What is a Hero?

It’s easy to let Veterans Day come and go without really stopping to think about the people we are honoring. The following is an essay about a veteran written by Megan McConaghy on September 22, 2002. It is especially meaningful to me because it was written about my father but it is not unlike the story of many of our nation’s veterans. It is simply entitled: “What is a Hero?”

To me a hero is an honest hardworking person, wise, has accomplished a lot in life, has touched many lives, puts others first, and is humble. I consider the late Mark Whitt a hero.

Mark is my hero because he lived his life the way he believed God wanted him to. He never complained about his lot in life even when he was diagnosed with cancer and it slowly robbed him of the life that he was accustomed to living. He was devoted to his family, God, and friends. He was active in the Boy Scouts, Little League Baseball, and the Masonic Lodge, too. Mark was an Oklahoma State fan and never missed a game. He encouraged everyone who came in contact with him.

Mark was also a decorated war veteran. He volunteered for the Armed Forces in 1940. He was asked to attend Officer’s Candidate School a year later, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1942. He was in the Battle of the Bulge in the European Theater.

Near Strealin, Germany, Captain Whitt made his way to an anti-tank ditch where units of an armor-infantry force were under attack. He set up a defense, supervised evacuation of the wounded and directed artillery fire in silencing enemy weapons. He saved valuable property and many wounded men.

For his heroism, Mark was awarded the Bronze Star and Oak Leaf Cluster. He also received the EAME Theater Ribbon, two Bronze Service Stars, American Theater Ribbon, and Victory Medal. Despite his awards, he was humble. His wife of sixty years did not know what he had accomplished until the Army sent her his records after he died.

I knew Mark through church and have always admired him. He was like another grandfather to me. I am a better person having known him.

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