Epic heroes such as Beowulf, of the epic poem Beowulf by an unknown author, seem nowhere to be found in the harsh reality we live in; however there are people alive today that show the type of heroism that can only be described as legendary.
Human beings are hardwired to put their own survival above the survival of all people. A person who puts himself/herself in lethal danger for the sake of others deserves the utmost respect. Specialist Ty M. Carter of the U.S.
Army earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his selfless defense of his comrades against overwhelming forces; a situation where most people would lose all hope. Carter’s actions showed the kind of character seen in larger than life superhuman, such as Beowulf. This character is shown first and foremost in the courage to run into enemy fire, a hail of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades, to haul fallen soldiers back to where they could receive medical attention. Most people would never be able to keep themselves from running away from such a situation, much less force their legs to run directly through it. In the epic poem Beowulf, the mead-hall Heorot is being savagely attacked in the night by a bloodthirsty monster, Grendel. Beowulf’s sole purpose in traveling to Heorot is to seek out and kill this monster, in order to protect the people of Heorot.
Like Carter, he does not consider the enormous threat he is diving into, only seeing what he can do to stop it. The two men, Carter and Beowulf, both show a desire to protect people that is stronger than even the need to keep themselves alive. Indeed, they throw themselves directly into monstrous peril without a second thought. Considering Carter lacks Beowulf’s superhuman abilities, his actions are especially impressive. Men of such strength could simply remove themselves from the situation; get out while they still can. But something inside them drives them forward, to risk everything for a man they’ve never met.
Lastly, the two incredible men show a strength in battle that is above and beyond normal men. Beowulf fights the monster Grendel with his bare hands; and, much later in his life, nearly defeats a dragon singlehandedly in spite of his advanced age. Carter overcame similar disadvantages in his fight. His position was surrounded; he was outnumbered and without a communications radio. Furthermore, he was armed with only an assault rifle, whereas recoiless rifles and rocket propelled grenades were shot at him in mass volume.
Despite having everything out-of-his-favor, Carter sprinted into the enemy fire. What he retrieved was invaluable; the lives of his brothers in arms, and the communications radio he needed to coordinate with the US army. There is a stark contrast between the world we live in, and the fantasies we create. Some invent heroes, such as Beowulf, because they wished there was a man so great. However, heroes do live among us.
It isn’t always obvious; Specialist Carter looks like any other soldier. But when the time came, he showed that he did not need superpowers to save the lives of everyone around him.