My brother was born in Union, Missouri on the fourth of July. That he was born on the fourth of July meant he never had a chance. That our father was a decorated and wounded ex-marine who some would label a war hero meant even less of a chance. That at the time Union was a small mostly conservative farming community made things even worse. You see expectations were high for a boy born to a war hero in a military family in a conservative town. Even you, though not American, must see this. There have been enough movies and books about that kind of thing.
My brother’s name was Roy. Actually he was Roy junior named after our own father Roy but he isn’t fit to hold the same name as my brother, his son, so for me in the family there is only one Roy and that is my brother. My father will remain father. A nameless character who I will never forgive for his putting his stupid beliefs, ignorances, bigotry and xenophobia before the needs of his own flesh and blood and there were many times when Roy needed his father but found only an unwillingness to want to listen to even accept Roy or his needs.
Now many in these unenlightened days see an American hero as someone who has served their country and often been damaged by it. Or someone who has made a fortune in some arcane form of business or gambling on stocks and shares, or someone who kicks a record of field goals. You know the type. The American hero is a stereotype of hollywood proportions and one that no normal person can aspire to. But for me and maybe a very few of the others that new him my brother Roy was a true American hero. He lived his life the way he wanted. In spite of all the pressures, and there were many, he did what he wanted. And you know what he did never hurt anybody else but it sure did upset many. But they were upset not because Roy did anything at all to hurt them directly. Roy wasnt like that. He was considerate and sensitive and too often put others in front of himself. But in the end he lived as he wanted and not in the way many proscribed for him and to not live up to someones expectations is just not acceptable. But for me the whole idea of America is that you can do what you want and that your beliefs wont be held against you, so for me Roy was a true American hero and not one of those fake ones created by some hollywood producer, bigoted radio talk show hosts or the media. You see they don’t believe in what America was meant to be but Roy did and he lived it and there is nothing worse than being different and doing your own thing to conservative America even within his own family who when it came to it were never there for Roy. I will have to live with the fact that right at the end even I wasnt.