I recently saw a plaque at The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific that read, “The American Heroes Known but to God.” As I stood before the monument allowing the words to soak in, I pondered who these heroic men and women were and how they served.

A couple of years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the premiere of the documentary film Medal of Honor alongside many of the only hundred or so recipients still living. Watching their stories play out, hearing about the lives they saved and seeing the obstacles they had to overcome amidst the danger they faced truly makes them heroes.

The producer and director of the film, Roger Sherman, said, “While most of us would certainly agree that anyone wearing a Medal of Honor is a hero, every recipient I've met would categorically deny their heroism.”

We rarely hear about “genuine” heroes, ones who unselfishly serve others, who put their lives before their fellow man and who “do” rather than just talk about doing. That’s part of the reason they are heroes—for their humbleness and anonymity.

In a recent nationwide essay contest posing the question “Who is Your Hero?” many teenagers answered, “Lady Gaga,” “Michael Phelps,” “Britney Spears,” and “Michael Jackson.” Thankfully, some responded “Dad,” “Mom,” “my teacher” and “the military.”

Nowadays, the media speaks of “heroes” as those whose life and legacy is not built upon character, trust loyalty and integrity, but rather ability, good looks and money. As we have seen, many of those “heroes” don’t maintain their “title” very long.

One of my hopes is to be considered (someday) a “hero” to my son or daughter, which may be a desire many of us share; however, as the years have waned as a single, I have often wondered if I’ll ever have that opportunity.   

While many of us in this situation can sit around and hope for that to happen or hurt for what we are missing, maybe we can consider how we can selflessly invest our time and energy into others and discover a way to be a “hero known but to God.”

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:1-4).

It’s “human nature” to do something and want to be recognized for it. For some, it’s the only reason why many do what they do—for the notoriety, the accolade and the reward. However, it is “Jesus nature” to do something and not want anyone to know about it.

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing,"he said. "Be clean!"Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them" (Matthew 8:2-4).

There are many ways we can make a positive difference in people’s lives without being in the military or having miraculous powers.