My Mother’s Day article triggered a suggestion by TODAY reader, Mr Lee Yeau Yin, who was a taekwondo student of my father many, many years ago.

Mr Lee feels all of us have our own heroes who deserve to be honoured, and proposed that…

…he and I jointly initiate a Hero’s Day movement. He believes that this should be an opportunity for us to honour not only dead heroes but also those who are alive. But the idea, while worth pondering, may not be popular.

I believe many true greats do not want to be glorified. The late former President Wee Kim Wee is one of them. He wanted to be remembered as a “simple man with simple tastes:, and certainly not as a hero. His wish and the wishes of others like him shuld be respected.

Moreover, if the objective of a Hero’s Day is to remember the outstanding deeds of local heroes and honour them, it can be done any time. Why wait until Hero’s Day to do it?

To all of us, a hero is someone who risks or sacrifices his or her life for a noble cause. That makes people like Mr Heng Yeow Pheow an indisputable hero. He lost his life in the Nicoll Highway collapse last year while ensuring that his co-workers escaped.

A hero, to most of us, may also be someone who has acted unselfishly for the betterment of our community or someone who has inspired others and improved their lives. For example, Dr Wee, a hero to many, had made a positive difference in our society with his compassion and love for people from all walks of life.

To chronically ill children and their desperate parents, the heroes are not found on movie screens or soccer fields. They are those who, through their generous contibutions, have helped the children to cry less and dream more.

A hero can also be someone who has overcome adversitites without bile or venom. Based on theis criteria, Uncle Tim is a hero.

Mr Timothy Yip – Uncle Tim to me – wrote to me after reading my article, Thank you for being a mother (May 6). He shared with me the discrimination, the abuses and the deprivation he suffered at the hands of his mother.

Yet he deeply loved her, gave her the best attention when she was stricken with cancer, and cried btterly when she passed away. He turned his nightmarish experiences into unfettered love for his four children and three grandchildren. That’s a hero to me.

You may have your own definition of a hero. But one thing is for sure, we have many heroes in our midst. We may also be someone’s hero and not even know it.

So, going back to Mr Lee’s suggestion, should we set a date aside for to celebrate our heroes?

If it can serve as a reminder for us to recognise and honour them, I think there is no harm in doing so.

But it may be better that we make it a habit to make our feelings known to the people who have made a difference in our lives. Let them know that they are our heroes whenever the opportunity arises. In this way, they will feel valued and respected and we won’t regret not doing so after their passing. After all, death is only a heartbeat away.

Alternatively, we can honour our heroes by emulating them. I love this quote by Ms Lim Hui Min, Dr Wee’s granddaughter: “If you wish to honour his (Dr Wee’s) memory, then live your life to the full, stand by your freinds, cherish your family ,listen to everyone with an open mind and welcome thsoe who cross your path with an open heart.”

(This journal entry can be found in TODAY of 26 May 2005)