by Pride Transport | Oct 21, 2020
Who are the heroes in our lives? When you think heroes, who comes to mind? Is it a father or a mother? Is it a police officer or a fireman? Is it a costumed crime-fighter in a movie or a TV show? There are so many examples of heroes in our everyday life and history, literature, and art. Statues and songs, books, and documentaries. So much is produced about heroes. We hold them in the highest esteem. We laud them with praise and attention. We wait for a hero to save us from the mundane, and, sometimes, that happens.
Heroes are sung. Literally and figuratively. Bob Dylan sang about Hurricane Carter. Homer sang for 12,110 lines about Odysseus in the Odyssey. They are recognized and adored. Those that are sung that is.
What about the unsung heroes? The ones who are just doing their job, doing what’s right. Doing their very best day in and day out, not looking for reward or praise. The ones who are doing what needs to be done so the rest of us can live good lives and be happy and safe. What about them?
If you’re a fan of Homer’s Odyessy, then you think, perhaps, that Odysseus is the star of that show, the hero of that epic poem. Sure, why not? The thing is named for him after all but, is he the hero? Perhaps but, there is another hero in that story, and it’s … Telemachus.
Who is Telemachus, you may ask? Well, he is Odysseus’ son, and he is the hero of the epic poem, The Odyessy. How so? Well, Odysseus goes off to fight with Troy, and he gets all the fame and riches, and some guy spends a bunch of time writing about his fabulous journey. In the meantime, back home, Telemachus is desperately keeping his father’s house from being trashed. He is fighting a wave of suitors trying to score with his mom. When he finds out his father is alive, he hops in a boat and goes off to bring him home.
Telemachus does what needs to be done to keep his family together, keep his father solvent, and keep the balance in Ithica, where Odysseus is king. The title of the poem could be, “While everyone else is out showing off, I’m here doing the day to day stuff that keeps all of this going, the story of Telemachus.”
But that’s not going to happen, and you know why? Because Telemachus is an unsung hero. He is the one getting the job done, quietly, dutifully with little fanfare. And he does it just because it is what needs to be done.
Unsung in modern-day
Leaving ancient Greece for the moment, let’s take a look around our modern-day world for some unsung heroes. Those who do for others, not for reward or praise, but because it’s their job and knows it needs to be done well.
When we think of unsung heroes, the first people that come to mind are truck drivers.
Think about it
In a house in a small town, there is a mother with her baby. The town has been covered in snow and ice from a terrible winter storm. No one is going anywhere because the roads are treacherous. This mother bundles up in winter gear to brave the storm to go to the store to get formula to keep her baby alive. She doesn’t doubt that what she needs to nourish her baby will be on the shelves because it’s always there. And, once again, as she heads down the baby aisle, she finds what she so desperately needs.
She finds it, and she is relieved. She doesn’t give a thought as to how the formula got to the shelf. Who delivered it, who braved the roads to get it there. Nope, she only thinks of her baby. And, that’s all she needs to think about, the safety and comfort of her child.
But if she did think about it, she’d think about the unsung heroes of our lives. The truck drivers who are fighting the storms, the long hours, the traffic to get what we need to the stores, to the shelves, to the hands of a mother so she can care for her child.
The awesome burden
If you pull it off a shelf, pluck it from a rack, scoop it from a barrel, have it filled by a pharmacist or pick it up at a drive-through window, chances are good that it got to you, at one point, via a truck.
Trucks move more than 70% of all goods transported around the United States. Trucking accounts for the vast majority of freight in America, with trucks carrying almost 71% of the tonnage moved about the country.
And, of course, these trucks don’t operate themselves. No, sir, they are skillfully maneuvered over the highways and byways of our nationwide by well trained, seasoned, professional truck drivers.
On any given day there are 2 million trucks on the American highways. They are carrying everything from food to medical supplies, from bottled water to baby wipes. Each day 2 million truck drivers hit the roads in all kinds of weather to ensure we, the consumer, get what we need, what we want when we want it. You wouldn’t want to live in a world without truck drivers. You probably couldn’t live in a world without truck drivers. If there were no truck drivers, our country would grind to a halt rather quickly.
Now, maybe the unsung part has got you confused because, admittedly, there are a ton of songs about trucks, trucking, and truck drivers. Off the top of our heads, we can think of a few great ones:
Truckin’ – 2013 Remaster – Grateful Dead
East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed
Convoy – C.W. McCall
I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
Brothers of the Highway – Tony Justice
So, yes, trucks and drivers are often sung about, but that’s now what we mean when we say they are unsung heroes.
At the start of this article, we asked who the heroes are in our lives? Honestly, how many people do you think said, truck drivers? Probably not many. And, you know, that’s okay. Truck drivers aren’t into bragging or demanding attention. Most truck drivers are regular folks with a strong sense of duty and dedication. They aren’t out there on the road looking for praise or parties; they’re doing their job and doing it well.
Taking care of you
The heroics of truck drivers extends beyond just getting your Slim Jims to the 7-11. Truck drivers are always on the lookout to make the roads safer for themselves and their companions on the road. From safely transporting hazardous materials to making sure that their rigs are environmentally conscious, truck drivers are thinking not just about getting their load to where it needs to be on time; they’re thinking about all the folks they share the road and the world with as well.
They do this without much complaining, although, when you see the way some people behave on the roads, truck drivers certainly do have a lot they could complain about.
Beyond the road
It goes beyond the simple delivery of goods. Truck drivers are dedicated to the well being and the safety of many others. Don’t believe me, well, take a look at Truckers Against Trafficking.
“Modern-day slavery or human trafficking exists whenever people are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex. Around the world, it is estimated that there are over 40 million slaves today. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.” - Truckers Against Trafficking.
This organization was started to educate people, equip, and empower members of the truck driving industry as well as bus and energy industries to combat the trafficking of human lives. As if drivers don’t have enough to watch out for on the road, they are also dedicated to putting an end to this horrific and destructive business that, unfortunately, is booming all over our nation.
We ask again …
Who are the heroes in our daily lives? Some are easy to spot. They wear uniforms, drive cars with sirens and lights on top. They are on the news, in the papers. They are good people who have gone the extra mile. But, many more don’t have uniforms, capes, badges, or stories in the nightly news.
True to their nature, truck drivers probably wouldn’t appreciate all this attention. They’re just doing their job, no fuss, no need for applause. And we are sure they would never call themselves heroes. So, we thought we’d take a minute and say it for them.
Keeping this country supplied with so many things that make life better, but livable is not an easy job. Staying the course when the weather has most of us shuttered safe inside is not for the faint of heart. Keeping an eye out for those who have fallen into a bad and dangerous situation is not on the job description, but it needs to be done.
These actions, these rare human qualities that make men and women see beyond themselves and their own needs to help others are the qualities of a hero.
So, the next time the product is exactly where you need it to be or the dress is exactly what you’d dreamed it would be, or the road is safe, so you get home to your family on time and in one piece, stop. Stop for a moment and think about the ones who don’t have epic poems written about them. The ones who don’t have a yearly parade. The ones who aren’t on the 5 o’clock news. The ones that we would desperately miss if they were no longer around. Stop, think about them, and sing them a little song of thanks and recognition.
Truck drivers, without a doubt, are the unsung heroes of the road. Put that in a poem and sing it, Homer.