By Luke Finster

The words “role model” and “hero” are thrown around pretty often in today’s society.People look up to athletes like Lebron James because he can impressively dunk a basketball.

People view Peyton Manning a role model because of the many game-winning drives he has led on the football field.

But what makes what these people so worthy of being called a role model?

Just because a person can throw a ball down a field doesn’t make them a role model. Angelina Jolie may earn millions a picture but does that make her deserving of being called a role model.

In looking for heroes and role models, people should step away from the television and movie theaters and look at some of the actions of our own neighbors.

Many people may look up to an actor who plays a war hero on the big screen. The true living heroes are the millions of veterans out there who risked their lives to protect all of our freedoms.

From the thousands who died storming Normandy on D-Day to the famous soldiers who raised the flag on the mountains on Iwo Jima after defeating the Japanese, these men were real heroes.

The heroes are the teachers who see potential in every student and give all their heart in seeing them succeed and who spend their own money on supplies so their students have opportunities to learn in the classroom.

Role models are the thousands of people who rushed to the Gulf Coast to assist total strangers who had their lives destroyed after Hurricane Katrina.

Heroes are the people out there who work without complaint to provide for their family at home. They’re the people who work two jobs just so their children can have food on their plate and shoes on their feet.

A hero in my opinion is anyone who strives to positively impact others.

Personally, I do not have to look far for role models to look up to.

While I personally I love NASCAR, I don’t find my heroes in the drivers who buckle up each weekend and go 200 miles per hour around the racetrack.

My heroes are found closer to home.

I look up to soldiers like my brother who celebrated his 25th birthday thousands of miles from home while fighting in Iraq

My heroes are people like my father who worked more than 30 years in an auto factory. He never called in sick or showed up late, all so he could provide for my mother, my brothers and sisters and myself.

I’m preparing to graduate in December, and I have my high school teachers, who talked me into college when I was unsure, to thank.

I have those who spent extra time staying after school with me to prepare me to take my ACT test to thank.

Finally, my biggest heroes are my four grandparents who were always there with a smile of pride, attending all the important events throughout my life.

These are the ones I looked for every Sunday morning at church sitting at seventh pew on the left. My role models grandmothers never missed working at a church garage sale or helping at the food pantry: That’s what being role models is all about.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure that Peyton and Lebron are nice folks. I am just saying it’s much easier to find role models in those people that affect our lives in positive ways every day.

You don’t have to look to Hollywood or a ballfield to find heroes; they’re found all around us each and every day.