April 28 — another one of those special days. It is National Superheroes Day, and it falls near the end of National Volunteer Month. Let’s combine the two for a needed celebration.

I am surrounded by superheroes. I don’t mean the Marvel Comics or Justice League types, none of those who are featured at Comic-Con. I mean the real-life heroes who keep our Miami County part of the world on track. They aren’t the ones who do the “extraordinary” things or even those who have “extraordinary” powers. They are simply those who do ordinary things in “extraordinary” ways.

Years ago, in Osawatomie, we held an annual Community Recognition Night, meeting in the city or high school auditorium to honor those who had donated time and talent throughout the year. That special event also honored business retirees who had spent years in their life’s work to improve their town.

I very much miss that. It was a dress-up occasion complete with programs and refreshments and lots of hugs and good will. People who had never expected public commendation for their efforts were often emotionally affected, and their responses touched the rest of us in turn.

While a few firms still honor their volunteers, and Miami County and the State of Kansas present years of service awards, we no longer salute our doers of good in such a grand style. I would like to atone for that today.

My superheroes are those who are essential to my own and my community’s well-being. They include those in military service, in public safety, in health care and education and all those occupations that make life bearable. That includes retail clerks, waste management staff, mechanics and repairpersons and, of course, those who do the little extras without pay.

Those are the ones who keep churches operating, keep charitable ministries functioning and keep our museums and parks and trails viable. They are the truly “essential” workers.

I must include the neighbors that help out even when they are struggling, the friends who remember us in thought and prayer and baked goods while dealing with their own burdens and, especially, those who are alone but still valiant, daring to rise each morning in the hope of doing something for others.

Two of my personal historic heroes, men with ties to Miami County and Osawatomie, had succinct ideas about how to live. George Washington Carver, famed inventor who lived in Osawatomie and then in Paola during his boyhood, may have said it best. “Start where you are with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.”

I somehow prefer these fewer words of President Theodore Roosevelt who dedicated the John Brown Park here.

He shared a similar thought: “Do what you can with what you have where you are.”

My present-day heroes, both super and supreme, do this. They meet life head-on without giving in. They are models for the rest of us. In these recent difficult times, we have ceded much of what was usual and familiar to move ahead and not regress. Many have followed the advice of Carver and Roosevelt and what they could do, they did. Let’s all be grateful for those actions that also benefited us.

Here’s to the superheroes among us! Thank you on your very own special day.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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