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American Faces #63 - A true hero

Updated: Mar 19



American Faces No. 63


Eighty-seven year old Joe Myles is a man full of stories, wise cracks, and love for his late wife and daughters of more than forty years. Joe is a Korean war vet, which was what I thought would be the backbone of my story. I quickly learned that being in the Army in the 1950’s was a small part of this man’s life. After the Army, Joe spent thirteen years living the rough life of an unmarried man working various jobs while living at the YMCA. However, the love of a woman helped him realize there was more to life; a lot more to life. Like, the love of a woman with four daughters and a life in the city of Chicago, Illinois more to life. That woman was the cleaning lady at the YMCA. Marjorie endeared herself to Joe by banging her cleaning cart against the wall to wake Joe after his long night shifts. Joe, in his early 40’s, married Marjorie in 1972 and became the father to her four girls. He affectionately refers to Marjorie and her four daughters as his "ready-made family.” I could hear in his voice, the heart of a father who didn’t look at these girls as anything less than his very own daughters. Joe went on to work hard to provide for his family and do the best that he could to raise a family in the upper Midwest. Was he perfect? No. But then, no one is. Maybe he is not a war hero, or a man who commanded the very army he served in, but Joe deserves the same respect. This man named Joe left behind who he was in his younger years to become the man Marjorie and her daughters needed.

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So while I went looking for a war-hero story originally, I got the everyday-hero kind of story. The kind of story where the hero has tears rolling down his face because he loves his wife and family so much.

Take time to listen to the stories of your parents and grandparents. The stories you have heard a thousand times might be boring to you, but they mean the world to them. Their stories define who they are and just might influence the kind of person you become.



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