When I was about twelve years old, I thought I wanted to be a professional basketball player. At the time, the New York Nets’ star player was Julius Erving, better known as Dr. J. For those of you too young to remember, Dr. J was the precursor to Michael Jordan and was known for his acrobatic play with mid-air spins and whirls punctuated by powerful slam dunks. He was my hero and I aspired to be just like him, spending countless hours practicing in my driveway, trying to perfect my game. One day my parents surprised me with the news that we were going to take a trip to San Antonio to watch Dr. J and the New York Nets play the San Antonio Spurs. I was so excited I could barely sleep. I was going to see my hero—Dr. J.
We stayed at a hotel that was walking distance from the arena, and on the night of the game my parents and I got on the elevator, pushed the button for the lobby. The elevator began its descent. We were making small talk when the elevator stopped, the door opened, and to my utter amazement, onto the elevator walked Dr. J followed by two of his lesser-known teammates. These giants towered over me, and I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m surrounded by heroes.”It was an exhilarating moment.
We actually walked to the arena with them and Dr. J offered me some advice about working hard and not trying to imitate someone else’s style. The entire walk to the arena I kept repeating to myself, “I’m surrounded by heroes.”
In the end, genetics and a general lack of talent conspired against me and I eventually gave up my dream of becoming a professional basketball player—but I can still remember the excitement of that moment. When I related the story to my best friend, his father told me, “It’s a lucky boy that gets to meet his heroes.”
As I grew older, my definition of hero changed as I came to realize that the ability to jump from the foul line and dunk a basketball is not heroic—it is merely an example of extreme talent and athleticism. Being elected to public office is not heroic. Hitting a three iron from the rough to within inches of the cup, being the fastest swimmer on the planet, or returning an intercepted pass 100 yards for a touchdown during the Super Bowl—these things are exciting, glamorous, sometimes awe-inspiring, but they are not heroic. True heroism requires service to others, which is the missing element in all of these endeavors. Service to others, captured in our Air Force Core Values in the phrase “Service Before Self,” is central to the concept of heroism.
As my definition of heroism changed, my heroes changed also. They were no longer sports figures on trading cards stored in a shoe box under my bed. I began to look to men like Theodore Roosevelt for inspiration. The stories of Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton motivated me as I read of their decisive leadership during World War II.
At the age of twenty-five when I became interested in joining the Air Force I began reading about Paul Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay, of Colonel Doolittle and his Tokyo Raiders. I read about Colonel Robbie Risner and Captain Lance Sijan, who in captivity in Vietnam endured unspeakable torture and met it head-on with unbreakable courage.
And then I joined the Louisiana Air National Guard. I joined the Guard and I need not look to the pages of history to find heroes. I need not travel back with Teddy Roosevelt to San Juan Hill. I need not walk the beaches of Normandy, or travel to the deserts of Iraq, or the mountains of Afghanistan. I need not read about Lance Sijan, or Colonel Risner, or Jimmy Doolittle, or Paul Tibbets to find heroes. Because on this day, in this place, I find myself once again surrounded by heroes.
In order to find heroes now I simply go to work. I go to work and see men like Sergeant Brian Welch, who jumped into the raging surf in Florida to save a drowning girl. As a testament to the danger he was in, you should know that another would-be rescuer nearly drowned in the attempt. I see men like Phil Allday and Charles Hancock who risked their own lives to save another, within a half mile of where we now stand. Once again, I’m surrounded by heroes.
I see men like Lt Col Jeff Samuel, who has flown 106 combat missions, more than any other pilot in the Wing. One of the highlights of my career was flying his 100th combat mission with him over the skies of Iraq.
I see Rod Searls who set up the Toys for Tots program at our Wing and has worked selflessly with other volunteers to ensure the success of this program. I see the faces of those who have given up weekends building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
I see those who have ensured the continued success of our Fighter Pilot for a Day program—men and women who have given their time to ensure that a sick child is able to live today a dream that he might not be alive to fulfill tomorrow.
I see Sergeant John Childs from my tenure as Commander of the Civil Engineering Squadron. I needed a First Sergeant. John volunteered. When told that if he took the job he would lose his $15,000 re-enlistment bonus, he took the job anyway saying “You need a First Sergeant more than I need the money.”
I see the heroes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, who in the midst of mind-numbing fatigue fought to save the citizens of Louisiana and struggled to restore order to a city decimated by the ferocity of Mother Nature.
I see the heroes of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, who patrolled shelters, drove busses, handed out food and water to citizens in need; heroes who were critical to the safe evacuation of 2 million of our citizens prior to landfall.
I see Major Jim Worley and Captain Lance Bowlin, who on a scorching ramp at Lakefront Airport worked continuously for over 60 hours in an epic race against time to evacuate by air over 200 hospital patients from the local area. I’m surrounded by heroes.
I see the aircraft maintainers that scrambled to ready my jet for launch on 9/11. I see those who deployed to Turkey in the months following the destruction of the twin towers.
I see those who have volunteered to travel to combat zones around the globe to participate in the Global War on Terror. I see Sasha Cola and Rasa Smith, among our newest heroes recently back from Iraq. They also happen to be the Louisiana Air National Guard’s 2008 selections for Airman and NCO of the Year. I see Master Sergeant Tony Wigglesworth, our selection as First Sergeant of the Year.
I see Colonel Charlie “Groucho” Chappuis who just got back from his tour as the Hospital Commander in Baghdad. As a successful surgeon, he loses more money than I care to think about every time he leaves his private practice. I’m proud to say I’m friends with this man who has deployed overseas three times in the last five years, where his skills as a surgeon saved lives every day. I am surrounded by heroes.
They come from every group and organization in the Wing. They have different job titles, different rank, different experience, and different talents. But they have one thing in common—they personify the concept of Service Before Self and they are heroes.
I will add to this list of heroes the families and friends of military members. Every spouse who keeps the children fed, the books read, and the prayers said; every spouse who keeps the bills paid, the homework done, and has ensured a house is a home is a hero. I know that whatever success I have enjoyed in my career has been accrued upon the shoulders of my wife and my children who are my heroes.
Every mother, like my own sitting here today—a hero in her own right in her recent battle with cancer—every mother who has prayed for the safe return of her child from a combat zone, every family member that has sent a care package, every friend that has penned a note of encouragement to a deployed comrade is a hero because they have given of themselves for the sake of another.
I’d like to quote from Ben Stein, who wrote the following in an article about his idea of a hero: “A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family devastated in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad. “There are plenty of other heroes in our country...policemen and women who go off on patrol…and have no idea if they will return alive; orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and cancer wards.”Now you have my idea of a real hero. Stein goes on to say, “I came to realize that a life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human.” Let me repeat “. . . a life lived to help others is the only one that matters.”We are lucky enough to be a part of a profession that by its very nature allows us to lead “a life lived to help others.”It is at once a great responsibility—attimes demanding personal sacrifice, danger to ourselves, and heartache for our loved ones, and a tremendous blessing—because we reap the satisfaction of working for the greater good.
Some people go their entire lives and never know a single person that has sacrificed his own comfort or safety for the sake of our nation. The fact that you as a member of the military probably have many friends who have made such sacrifices is a testament to the quality of the people in the profession of arms. It is a generally unspoken, but nonetheless legitimate benefit of military life that we are immersed in a culture of selflessness. Being thus immersed, I find myself inspired. Being thus inspired, I then expect more of myself, and more of those I work with and around. It is a circle of selflessness that builds upon itself and makes us better people. It has been said that “sacrifice begets sacrifice”, and “honor begets honor,” and nowhere is that more true than in the company of military men and women.
My friend’s father was right—it is a lucky boy that gets to meet his heroes—and it’s a blessed man that gets to work with his.
Men and women of the 159th Fighter Wing, you truly are heroes. It is my sincere pledge to accomplish our mission. It is my sincere desire to earn your respect. It is my sincere honor to serve as your commander. May God bless you and our great nation.
Front Page Headlines
Sequel to "Tattooed by Jesus!"
January 24, 2017
2017 brings three research projects...and a new book! » read story
"Tattooed for Jesus" cover
March 23, 2015
A cover picked from Illinois State University's gifted Design Streak Studio class! » read story
Book signing tomorrow!!! May 31 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
See you at Heyworth Public Library!+ » read story
April 16, 2014
Snowdrfits and -19 temperatures = great winter writing! » read story
"Reclaiming Lily" giveaway!
February 18, 2014
Bethany House generosity soothes winter blues!! » read story
2014 Begins with a Blizzard!
January 27, 2014
New writing partner? Hercules, the Arctic Vortex! » read story
Phases and Stages...
October 26, 2013
Oh, the phases and stages of life! ! I've said good-bye to relatives and dear friends this year, partnered with a talented friend to capture the memoir of an extraordinary Louisiana lady, and set aside for the moment work on three fiction projects. Through it all, God has placed His Hand on my shoulder and still whispers the words, the themes, the approach. » read story
Four projects...and a swirl of gray matter!
January 23, 2013
First it was the Irishwoman, way back in 2008. Next came What the Bayou Saw, a story from my roots. 2011 brought two books in one year. What's new for 2013? » read story
July 9, 2012
Jesus spoke of it often. Ha Jin novelized it.
» read story
It's official! I signed a contract with Bethany House to write the latest story God laid on my heart, Reclaiming Lily. » read story
The Rhythm of Secrets
July 25, 2010
Look for the Rhythm of Secrets in January of 2011! » read story
The Rhythm of Secrets
February 23, 2010
Manuscript My Name is Sheba transformed into The Rhythm of Secrets » read story
Contract for My Name is Sheba
January 20, 2010
Kregel Publications has signed a contract to publish My Name is Sheba!
Mardi Gras celebration going on here!! » read story
Even Old Dogs Learn New Tricks
December 1, 2009
This old dog has got a real-life blog! Why don't y'all come over and see me sometime?? » read story
Give thanks with a grateful heart.
November 1, 2009
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One...
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, share a blessing, and you will be entered in a random drawing for a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card » read story/enter contest
October 30, 2009
Becky Tidwell, CONGRATULATIONS!
It was an IMPOSSIBLE task!
How did I DO IT? Burp! Burp! Read on!
P.S. Thanks for a month of laughs!!! » read story
Random drawing for nothing less than awesome!
October 16, 2009
Hey! Wanna visit my other blog? Read on! Or is that write on??? » read story
Writer returns to Southern roots
October 15, 2009
Metarie rocked as friends, family, and N'Awlins bibliophiles swamped one of American's most gorgeous Barnes &Nobles stores Oct 10. » read story
Writer again returns to roots--in the classroom!
October 15, 2009
Bleachers filled with scrubbed, smiling students--and God--provided supernatural energy. What a blessing it was to share my passion for writing! » read story
Calling All Mascot-Lovers. Rah! Rah! Rah!
October 1, 2009
In a rare spirit of compromise, this sports disliker will send a $15 Target gift card to some lucky visitor! The catch? Just name your favorite team mascot. » read story/enter contest
A Lose-Lose Situation!
September 30, 2009
Have you ever been in a lose-lose situation? Choosing ONE winner from this contest was IMPOSSIBLE--so I had my son pick a number from my "finalist" entries. The winner is.....Pat Grau!
Read on about an amazing wedding gift...at an amazing wedding. » read story
Wonderful times at area bookstores
September 28, 2009
Dear friends, my heart pulses with gratitude at your enthusiastic support during my appearances at the Hoerr Berean Grand Openings this past weekend. As always, I gain much more by YOUR appearance than you ever do by mine! » read story
The Miraculous Moment Arrives
September 23, 2009
As long as my synapses fire, I will cherish the mind's image of my daughter, aglow in her ivory gown, floating down the aisle on the arm of my husband, more handsome than he was when WE walked down the aisle 32 years ago.
» read story
HOW TO STAY BUSY PREWEDDING
September 14, 2009
Only FIVE MORE DAYS till we Lacys celebrate our FIRST WEDDING! What am I doing to stay busy?? » read story
54-year-old learns to blog!
September 11, 2009
So you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! » read story
September 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share a wedding memory! It can tickle my funny bone, bring tears to my eyes. Why am I doing this? READ ON!!! » read story/enter contest
August Contest Winner
August 31, 2009
Kudos to Carrie Turansky and Charity: water! You've won the August website contest! Read on, folks, to learn about a heroic group! » read story
Writer Returns to Scene of Crime
August 4, 2009
Oh, I had a blast whooping it up at Books A Million, scene of a former crime--I mean book signing--in Terre Haute. » read story
July 31, 2009
The unchurched in Bangladesh. An orphanage in the Ukraine. A soup kitchen in your own downtown. What organizations pull at your heart--and your billfold? For the August contest, I'm offering a $50 check to the registered charity of your choice AND a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card to the winning entrant.
» read story
Saving the Best for Last
July 30, 2009
South Bend has been added to my list of the Midwest's favorite cities. Wanna know why? » read story
Congratulations, Virginia Campbell
July 30, 2009
Dear readers, thanks for lovely memories! It was harder to pick one name than it is to choose a truffle from a Godiva box. How I'd like to choose every entry!
Here's the top choices. Enjoy! » read story
Leaving the best of me behind
July 25, 2009
I left the best of me in Marion...but it's time to move on » read story
Day three (continued)
July 24, 2009
Jamey Johnson's and Selah's music carry me onward and upward. » read story
Day three, Indiana trip
July 23, 2009
Uncommon persons of the Fort Wayne kind... » read story
Day two, Indiana trip
July 22, 2009
An author criss-crosses Indiana...and finds hospitality in the heart of Nagaland. » read story
Day one of Indiana Road Trip
July 20, 2009
Blessings about from the Hoosier state! Just for fun, I'm blogging about God-stops along the way. Read more... » read story
Another reason to write
July 14, 2009
God, you deliver new mercies with every morning. Oh, how I delight to see what's next... » read story
4th of July memories
July 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift certificate, share your favorite Independence Day memory. Can't wait to hear from y'all! » read story/enter contest
A Writer's Dream Day
June 30, 2009
Number of pages written? Zero. Value of twenty-four hour period? Priceless. » read story
Congratulations, Jeanne Graves!
June 30, 2009
Apparently quite a few of my readers are itching to get away, several to the Holy Land! Read on... » read story
Critique partner does it again!
June 26, 2009
Don't miss Dream Chasers, by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke! » read story
Calling all readers!
June 25, 2009
Don't miss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! » read story
Don't Miss This Opportunity!
June 12, 2009
Calling all writers! Don't miss this chance to improve your writing...and your relationship with God! » read story
When the world caves in, head to Warrensburg
June 11, 2009
How can a small library in a town of 1,500 people make a difference? Read on... » read story
Wanna Get Away?
June 1, 2009
If you had unlimited time and money--yeah, we're summer dreaming--what getaway spot would you choose? Think big, think bold--and you just might win a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card!
Now for a different take on summer vacation, read All That Chicago Has to Offer » read story/enter contest
May 31, 2009
Congratulations, Diana! YOU--and Estee Lauder--are the big winners of May's Perfumania winner. READ Diana's poignant story of perfume...and memory. Then check out the top ten fragrances! » read story
Why I Write
May 21, 2009
Bad reviews. Lonely early mornings...and late nights. Plummeting sales.
Why DO I write? » read story
May flowers...and memories
May 1, 2009
I've always loved the season that brings perky daffodils, elegant tulips, shockingly orange poppies with their sassy black eye. But Daddy introduced me to a glorious world of flower fragrance--at the men's cologne counter of a department store!
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, name your favorite perfume, and describe it! » read story/enter contest
Easter Memory contest winner
April 30, 2009
Congratulations to Gayla Collins, the winner of the Easter memory contest. Thanks to the many who shared from their treasure trove of Easters present...and past. Be sure to read all about 'em under Favorites/Lists! » read story
Easter memory contest!
April 1, 2009
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share YOUR most poignant Easter memory. Contest begins TODAY and will end on April 30.
» read story/enter contest
Winner, March contest!
April 1, 2009
Thanks, all of you who submitted heartwarming entries for the latest contest. Congratulations to Susanne Schurter, the winner of March's "Your Hero" contest! Read more for a poignant article by a wonderful young writer. » read story
March 3, 2009
I have a new hero, my baby brother, who is159th Fighter Wing Commander of the Air Guard in New Orleans, Louisiana. He's fought against both human forces and the forces of nature who've tried to destroy us and recently gave this speech at the wing change of command ceremony.
For the March contest, tell me your flesh-and-blood, modern-day hero. Winner receives a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card! » read story/enter contest
March 2, 2009
Congratulations, Ariel! You won the February Memories contest. Read my five favorite memories!l And thanks, Readers, for sharing your romantic secrets! » read story
Valentine's memory contest!
February 1, 2009
Pull out old love cards, faded corsages, and empty chocolate boxes. For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share your favorite Valentine's memory by February 29. Top entries will be posted under Headline News » read story/enter contest
Congratulations, Kelly Ann Thuet!
January 31, 2009
Congratulations, Kelly Ann Thuet, for your winning entry! READ these entertaining and poignant snow stories! And don't miss Diane Baum's poignant Christmas memory, which got lost in my mass of files.
Check out Favorites/Lists to see if YOUR entry made the Top Twenty! » read story
Congratulations, Rachel Robertson!
January 5, 2009
Congratulations, Rachel Robertson! You're December's contest winner!
Read Rachel's poignant Christmas memory--and the finalists who wowed me and my son Thomas, the judges! » read story
December's Christmas Memories Contest
December 1, 2008
For a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card, share your favorite Christmas memory! May the peace of Christ Jesus wash over you as you ponder His glorious sacrifice for mankind. Feliz Navidad! » read story/enter contest
November 30, 2008
Congratulations to Martha Artyomenko, winner of the November contest!
Get ready to salivate as you read all about it!
» read story
Winner, October Contest
October 30, 2008
Congratulations, Deb Cleveland, for winning a $15 Barnes & Noble gift certificate with your wonderful entry to the "It's Time for Revival Contest." » read story
It's Time for Revival!
October 1, 2008
October contest: "Revive us again, Lord. Revive us again."
For a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card, read more! » read story/enter contest
September contest: best school days memory
September 2, 2008
Congratulations to Christy Hawkes, winner of a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card. Thanks to all the wonderful entries--check out some of my favorites at the Favorites/Lists feature on this website. Now for Christy's entry... » read story
The Audience of One
August 9, 2008
Have you been slapped by a verbal rebuff from someone in the publishing industry? Spit upon by a rejection letter from that agent of your dreams? Perhaps this article is for you... » read story
August Contest winner: Deathbed memory
August 2, 2008
Congratulations to Jane Squires, winner of the August contest. Jane will receive a $15 Barnes & Noble card. Thanks for the fabulous entries! » read story/enter contest
A Bit o' Irish in All of Us
March 1, 2008
Kregel Publications has recently announced the release date of my first novel, tentatively titled An Irishwoman's Tale, as August 31, 2008.
To celebrate (and because March 17 is St. Patrick's Day), I'm honoring the Irish among us (or in us) for this month's contest! » read story
The 2007 ACFW National Convention in Dallas
October 17, 2007
Over five hundred writers gathered in Dallas to praise God, eat chocolate, fine-tune their writing craft, conduct a bit of business, socialize, did I mention eat chocolate? The keynote speaker, James Bell, admonished us to, "never stop learning, never stop writing, never stop reading." » read story
Patti's Writing News
September 17, 2007
An Irishwoman's Tale, Patti Lacy's first novel, will be published in the summer of 2008 by Kregel Publications.
Unsettled Waters: A Story of Deception, is now complete!
To read more... » read story
Freedom to Read, Even in Jail?
July 15, 2007
"Across the nation, religious texts are disappearing from America's prison libraries." » read story
Setting an Example
April 27, 2007
Ninety-six-year-old published for first time! » read story
The Raging Battle
April 22, 2007
A teacher's struggle to make a difference in the life of a student named Amber. » read story
A Slow Learner's Writing Plan
February 21, 2007
So you want to be a writer...What's your next step? If you've picked up a pen... » read story