I was saddened to read that one of our country’s great heroes, John Glenn, has died. He was a respected and much-loved astronaut and U.S. Senator. To many people, including myself, he was a true American hero.
The town of Cody was once honored to have him as our Cody Stampede Parade Grand Marshal, a very big deal for a town that takes five days to celebrate July 4. Senator Glenn, thank you for your service.
His death, after a life of service and honor, got me to thinking about some of the other heroes who have lived in our midst.
I didn’t have to ponder for long, because also this week there was a story about our own Cody Rotarians receiving the Community Hero Award for developing the Mentock Park all-inclusive playground for use by children living with disabilities. This group of civic leaders applied for grants and raised $100,000, and then its members spent three fall weekends removing the old playground and installing the new one. Ashlee Lundvall, Bruce Eldredge and other Rotarians who made this happen, thank you for your service.
Another Community Hero Award was presented by Cody mayor Tia Brown to Margorie and the late Dick Wilder, two of the town’s relentless and passionate volunteers whose keen interest in preserving Cody history led to the development of the Cody Heritage Museum. Ms. Wilder, thank you for yours and your late husband’s service.
Dr. Joe Medicine Crow is another hero we recently lost. He was the last living Plains Indian war chief – his name was Chief High Bird. As the last person to receive direct oral history from a participant in the Battle of Little Big Horn – from his grandfather, a scout for Custer – his personal experience was invaluable to the town’s historians. He served with honor in World War II and won numerous awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He served as the Cody Stampede Parade Grand Marshal in 2015. Dr. Medicine Crow, thank you for your service.
Hundreds of Japanese-Americans imprisoned at the Heart Mountain WWII Incarceration Camp left their families behind and served in the military to fight for the country that had imprisoned them because of their heritage. Many of these brave heroes lost their lives. One of the men who volunteered, James K. Okubo, was presented with the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military award for valor. Mr. Okubo and all the Americans from Heart Mountain who served, thank you for your service.
I know that many of Cody’s true heroes will never receive the recognition they deserve. They have helped preserve the legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody, worked to improve our schools, ensured that our parks are clean and plentiful and helped ensure that one of the town’s lifebloods – tourism – continues to thrive. But recognition is rarely a hero’s motivation anyway. There are heroes in my neighborhood, shopping at my local grocery store, drinking coffee at Rocky Mountain MoJoe, dining at Pat O’Hara Brewing Company and wandering through the exhibits at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
When you see them, thank them for their service.
Until next time I’m loving life and feeling grateful for the heroes in our midst here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.