An everyday hero: Sibling provides much inspiration to sister

MARQUETTE – Heroes walk among us every day. Sometimes they’re clearly visible, like police officers, firefighters or active military personnel.

Oftentimes, they’re not. They’re mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters or friends.

They’re the kind of people who usually don’t ask for recognition, but don’t hesitate for a moment when an opportunity arises to do something great.

Per Merriam-Webster, a hero is defined as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

Although he might not associate himself with the word “hero,” my brother is exactly that to me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked up to Ryan.

Even as a child, he carried himself in an exemplary manner that cannot be overlooked. He’s smart, hilarious, honest, kind-hearted and always puts others before himself.

A lot of different factors have shaped me into the person I am today, but some of my best qualities can be directly attributed to him.

I guess that’s what happens when you grow up as the younger of two siblings. Unknowingly, he served as a permanent, always present role model to me. I watched him navigate life from the back seat, mimicking his behaviors and trying my best to reach the bar he had set for me.

In elementary school and into junior high and high school, his name was always listed on the all-A honor roll. Because of his lead, I spent countless hours pushing myself to do the same.

He excelled at tennis in high school, competing in the number one singles spot. I joined the girls team as a freshman, after begging him to teach me how to volley and serve.

He went on to college at Michigan State University. I followed two years later.

Although we’ve chosen different professional paths and are now separated by distance, I still learn from him and carry on the lessons he’s taught me in my everyday life.

A few weeks ago I was reminded that he fills that role for many others, too.

On April 21, Ryan took command of Charlie Battery 2-43 Air Defense Artillery.

As a 27-year-old captain in the U.S. Army, it’s truly an incredible accomplishment. For him, it’s a dream.

When asked what the greatest part of his new role was, he replied without hesitation.

He doesn’t care about the merit or title tied to his name, his number one priority is making sure his 80 soldiers are afforded every opportunity possible to make them not only a better service member, but a better person overall.

And he puts in the work to make it happen. He arrives on base at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, before the sun rises and after hours of strenuous physical activity, training, evaluations and meetings, he stays long after his soldiers have gone home.

In the short time he’s served in his new leadership position, he’s gotten to know each and every soldier individually. It’s just one of the steps you have to take to make sure everyone feels like a valued member of the team, he said. You don’t automatically receive respect from those with a lesser rank, he told me, you have to earn it.

Like the superheroes you see in the movies, he morphs between plain clothes and uniform, but never loses touch with the qualities that make him worthy of such a title.

Editor’s note: Kelsie Thompson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.