We toss the word “hero” around too generously at times.
However, I want to take a brief look at the real thing, an actual hero who happens to belong to a community near where my wife and I have lived for the past three years.
Farmersville — in eastern Collin County — claims Audie Leon Murphy as one of its famed sons. Why not? When he enlisted in the Army during the height of World War II, Murphy had the Army inscribe “Farmersville, Texas” as his hometown on his dog tags.
This weekend, Farmersville welcomed back its annual Audie Murphy Day celebration. The city had put the ceremony on the shelf for the past two years as it fought off the coronavirus pandemic.
The ceremony honors a young man who in January 1945, at the age of 21, saved a village in France from a German armored unit. He fought the Nazis virtually single-handedly. He earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Murphy did not become filled with self-aggrandizing glory. Oh, no. He remained a humble man. He said often during his short life on Earth that the “real heroes are the men who didn’t come home.” Murphy died just short of his 46th birthday in a plane crash in western Virginia.
It’s more than just a little cool that one of our communities can claim a national icon as one of its own. Indeed, Murphy became the most decorated fighting man to serve in World War II. He received more than 30 combat medals, most of them for exemplary valor.
He knew what they meant. He wore them to honor the men with whom he served and those he watched die on the field of battle.
Audie Murphy was a hero to the nth degree and this weekend, Farmersville, Texas, was able to salute one its own.