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True American Heroes - Top Ten List- Real life, real time - as Ranked by Vix

Updated on March 6, 2014

Let me begin by stating that this Top Ten American Heroes list is not supported in any way by any current political polls. You won’t hear these people’s praises sung by the media, in most cases. These are true Americans that in my mind have made great personal sacrifice and shown tremendous courage in the face of overwhelming odds. I greatly respect and admire each and every one of them.

I do not own this image.  It was obtained under Google image search free domain.
I do not own this image. It was obtained under Google image search free domain.

What is a hero really?

The Free Online Dictionary defines it as follows...


1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.

2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war.

3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See Synonyms at celebrity.

4. The principal male character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation."

I'm going with definition number two.

I contend it is someone who shows great courage by doing what is right when they are scared to death. That fits well with the second definition. Or, is it simply the one that survives? Is it the one left standing that everyone else died for? Is it the victor? Can the looser ever be the hero? Is a hero considered to be the same thing today as it was 25, 50, 200 years ago?

I don't know. Everyone thinks differently. Each generation, as well as each individual, sees things differently. So, it seems logical to me that what I think is a hero a significantly younger or older person might not agree with. Does that mean I think everyone in my age bracket will agree with my list? No. But, a girl can dream.

Some people say a hero is no more than someone who gets other people killed. For the purposes of this list, we are sticking to the first part of definition number two. To me, the following people epitomize the ideal of an American hero. Many of them are just normal people like you and I that in the face of horrible circumstances stood up for what is right. It wasn't easy. They have paid in many ways. But, they stood their ground.


I do not own this image but obtained it from a Google image search for her under public domain.
I do not own this image but obtained it from a Google image search for her under public domain. | Source

10. Sarah McKinley

I have been in awe of this gritty, levelheaded, young woman since I first read about her shortly after she shot and killed a man who broke into her home. This young lady was only 18 years old. She had a spanking brand new baby and was freshly widowed…At Christmas! Her story has all the earmarks of a true country legend or a Greek tragedy. Take your pick. If just considering the circumstances of her situation before the break in doesn’t break your heart, well, I guess you can watch “Old Yeller” without bawling. I can’t.

How many 18 year old girls do you know that could remain calm enough in a situation of knowing two dangerous men were about to break in to ask the 911 operator if it was legal to shoot them? Not that I think it would have stopped her, ultimately, either way, legal or not. She’s the quintessential good mom. She did whatever she had to do to defend her baby. She had to have been terrified. Who wouldn’t be? On top of the grief of losing her husband and the added stress of now being a brand new, single, teenage mother, she saw the danger and acted. She stood up, used her head, and survived.

I know many an adult, male and female, who would not remain as calm. Sarah, I commend you. My heart bleeds for your loss and swells in admiration of your courage, not to mention your ability to remain calm and problem solve on the fly. You are an inspiration.

American made by Vix at
American made by Vix at


I do not own this image.  It was obtained under a public domain image search at Google.
I do not own this image. It was obtained under a public domain image search at Google. | Source

9. Savannah Dietrich –

This remarkable young lady is only 17. She was sexually assaulted. Bravely, she fought her way through the humiliating court process. She is now a victim’s rights advocate.

In case you are wondering, this is not an alleged sexual assault. The young men have both admitted to it. I do feel it should be noted that this is not a rape case, not from a legal, charges filed perspective. The young lady in question got drunk and passed out at a party. The two young men removed articles of her clothing and took pictures which they posted on the internet. This alone is child pornography since they were what we shall term as “crotch shots” and the young lady in question was only 16 at the time. Was the young lady at fault for underage drinking and subsequently passing out? Of course she was. Does that justify in any way the actions of the young men? Not one molecule.

They are all young.

Young people make mistakes. The huge and undeniable difference is that she hurt herself. They committed multiple predatory acts in sequence designed for no purpose other than self gratification, assertion of dominance and hurting her. All the acts committed are crimes, the drinking, the sexual assaults, the posting of child pornography, not to mention whatever else they did to her. She doesn’t really even know what all else was done to her because she was unconscious. She only knows of what she does because of the pictures and the young mens own confessions. But it’s like comparing a traffic ticket to an armed assault when one compares the severity of the infractions committed.

Sexual Assualt Victim Faces Charges. This is not my orignal video.

Savannah identified them publicly through tweeting. She further expressed her feelings of being treated unfairly by the court system. Then, the young men’s attorney threatened legal action.

Isn’t that special?

Legally bullying a child for telling the truth which can be proven by their own confessions and convictions. Heaven forbid the young lady be dissatisfied. Good Lord! How dare she try to warn other females about them? Obviously, they have the right to remain anonymous sexual predators. In fact, I’m surprised the legal dog in question did not threaten to sue her for emotional distress caused to his clients since getting their jollies via molesting unconscious children will now be more difficult in their local community. They may actually have to move! Can you imagine their anguish? Does not your heart bleed for them?

Ironic is it not that the real predators are the ones pointing the finger? That the so called justice system was used as their weapon against her? Welcome to the current legal system in the left dominated America.

Thankfully, the threats and legal bullying of a minor via impending lawsuit mess was dropped.

Savanna, I commend you, my dear.

You made a mistake one night and had to pay some terrible adult consequences that no adult should ever have to pay, much less a child. Sadly, that is the world we live in. There are predators. You can’t trust others not to hurt you when you are defenseless for no reason other than they can. The lesson learned is don’t put yourself in a situation where you are defenseless. But, in the face of what has destroyed the heart of many a grown woman, you stood up for yourself. You stood up for others by naming them. You endured the ongoing mind rape of the court system. You endured the legal threats, harassment, and bullying from adults trying to control your actions as those criminals one night controlled your body and robbed you of your right to choice and privacy. In the face of all of that, you refused to be a victim by never backing down, never giving up. More over you proved yourself a superior human being by working to help others.

8. A Texas father

Out of respect to the family and in light of the nature of what happened, I am following the media trend and maintaining his privacy, and more so, that of his four year old daughter.

This true story of heroism, in my opinion, is similar to the two above in that it is simply horrific to contemplate. Sadly, the outcome in this story was even worse. To make a long story short, this young man, 23 at the time, was at a ranch in Texas with several other acquaintances and his family. He was outside and heard his four year old little girl screaming from inside the barn. He races inside to find a grown man “sexually assaulting” his child.

Now, let me be blunt for the purposes of being totally clear. What they have termed as sexual assault I will contend to the day I die is the violent rape of a four year old child. Let the difference in the two terms sink in. The reports indicate the monster perpetrating this atrocity had his pants and underpants down around his ankles. The father had clearly pulled the assailant off the child before he attacked him. This was rape plain and simple and if not, it was only not so because the father made it to the child before full penetration had occurred. Make no mistake. This had to be one of the most violent acts that could ever be perpetrated upon a child.

The father beat the man to death.

Many of you may be horrified not only by the details of what was occurring right before the killing as I was, but also many of you may be horrified when thinking about the idea of one human being beating another to death. In this case, I’m not. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s a warm fuzzy. I’m not saying it was not brutal. I’m not saying I condone that level, or any level, of violence in civilized society. No.

I contend, in that specific situation, civilized society has ceased to exist. I contend in that exact and specific set of circumstances, when life has sucker punched you with a fight or die, or worse than die situation, one has but two choices. One can remain stuck in one’s pre-programmed pattern of "civilized behavior" thought patterns and behaviors, or one kicks into survival mode, fight or flight, whatever you wish to call it and does what sadly, reality calls for to survive. It’s a split second decision. There is no planning. There is no consideration of pros and cons. There can’t be.

Could you, would you, stop and consider such if seeing a beast raping your child on the barn floor while being surrounded by the sounds of her terrified screams? I do not have a child. I know myself. I couldn’t stop and think about that if it were a dog on the barn floor. It would be on. I could never allow it to continue. I would rather die than be someone who could.

The father in question acted in a flash.

He did not mean to kill the man. At least, I do not think he did. I really would not blame him if he did. At that exact moment in time, when he had the guy on the ground and was pounding on his head, I seriously doubt he was thinking at all. He was reacting. He was saving his daughter. He was physically expressing the moral outrage that exploded to the surface when confronted with what I feel is one of the most evil acts any human being could ever perpetrate upon another.

Sir, you love your daughter. You stood up for her. I hate that someone died. I hate you and your family were ever subjected to such a hideous, animalistic act of depravity and brutality. I commend you for not freezing in the face of it. I admire your courage. I pray you and your family, and most especially your daughter grow stronger as a result. I can think of no other saving grace, save one. Your baby girl will always know her Daddy loved her enough to fight for her when it mattered. In my book, you can’t get a much higher ranking on the Daddy ranking scale than that. You are a good father.

7. Russell Hendersen

From what I gather, Russell is just an average Joe. He’s a cable guy. My dear hubby does satellites. You could think of the two jobs as cousins, really. They are very similar. This story hit home for me further in that it happened recently in my own back yard, so to speak. Russell was just tooling along going about his work day recently when he came upon a fire. A lady was trapped on her balcony. From reports, she resided with her sister who had made it down already. Both had asthma. Here she is, terrified with flames “coming through the door.” Can you imagine? Not a place I would want to be.


I do not own this image.  Source:
I do not own this image. Source: | Source

So, here’s Russell. Let’s try to imagine his day.

Considering I hear about an installer’s day all day every day, I think I can go here. He’s slammed for time. He has too many jobs on his route that are too far apart for him to make within the time frame his tracking metrics demand. The name of the game here is get the job done and get on to the next one or I’m going to be out doing this all day, in the heat, and half the night. The jobs have to be completed.

Russell did not let any of that slow him down. He saw a human being in danger. He grabbed his ladder and off to her rescue he went like the proverbial knight in shining armor. You might be thinking what he did is no big deal. He had the ladder already. Anyone in that situation would have. I contend anyone did not. This was an apartment complex in a crowded urban area. There had to have been many people around.

What makes Russell stand out to me is the fact that he acted. He did something. He saw a problem he could fix right there for someone and he did it. How many people drive by, walk by, see situations where they could help everyday and keep going? The answer has to be way too many. Russell is not one of them. Not on that day. He didn’t just push a button and make a phone call, though many won’t even do that. No, he got personally, up in it type involved.

Russell, you’re a good guy. You may not think what you did was that big a deal. I think the fact that you did something is huge.

6. Austin Anderson

Austin was a young man whose entire adult life was dedicated to service. This brave young man served in the War in Iraq, twice. He was a decorated marine. Not only did he risk his life to protect us all day in and day out, in a foreign land, away from his family, his friends, everything he ever knew, he died doing the exact same thing. He died sadly struggling and sacrificing, suffering through what had to be the most tremendous pain to save someone else. He was only 27 years old. He had his entire life ahead of him. It didn’t keep him from putting the life of another above his own.


I do not own this image.
I do not own this image. | Source

He was in a small plane with friends when it crashed.

Reports state he saved a young woman from the wreckage by dragging her out. He was trying to get her to help. He died as a result of injuries sustained in the wreckage. The report states that over 90% of his body was burned. Have you ever had a second or third degree burn? I have. It hurts like all hell! I can’t imagine the pain of such covering almost the entire body.

Have you ever been in a bad car wreck? Again, the answer is yes from me. That too hurts. The body is sore for weeks from the impact regardless of other injuries. Just the jarring alone messed me up pretty good for a while. This young man did not let any of that stop him. He could have drug himself out and rested. He could have laid there in agony waiting for help. He must have known he was teetering on the edge of shock even if he did not know that edge was actually death. Considering his tours of service, I’m sure he did know.

Original video created by Brooke Ninowski

Can you imagine his pain, his fear?

Yet, he suffered through. He got that girl out. He could have so easily given up. No one would have blamed him. Except, I suspect, he would have blamed himself. That is the kind of person he seemed to be, to me, based off the details. He was someone who could not walk away from another in need. He helped her at great personal expense and I’m not talking money here. He paid the ultimate price and had to go through hell first knowing that would be the end result. Yet, he did it anyway.

I do not own this video. It is an original creation by Brooke Nanoski and uploaded to by Flomosapien.

Austin, God rest your soul.

You are a shining example of what is best in mankind, what allows the human animal to be humane. You are in God’s army now. You are a soldier who will never fall in battle. You will continue to fight the good fight. I for one could not think of anyone more qualified.

Did you really think I could fit all ten here?

Well, guys and gals, as usual I have gone on for far too long. This is the end of the first half of my top ten. Hubs can’t go on forever. This installment concentrated on real, down to earth, plane ole folk that rose to greatness when life called for it. The next installment takes a different tack and will see us through to my number one American hero. I hope to see you there. I hope they are still with us when I get it posted in a few days. I think you will understand that statement when you see who they are.

Hero? I thought this was real life, not the movies.

What the heck makes a hero?

See results

Hero - Original Video by Nickleback.

I do not own this video. It was preformed by Nickelback and uploaded to by archaanchel.

I do not own this image.  It was obtained through a Google search using the phrase "God bless America public domain image".
I do not own this image. It was obtained through a Google search using the phrase "God bless America public domain image". | Source


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    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      KoffeeKlatch Gals ~ Thank you. That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me this morning. It's been a day! God bless and happy hubbing!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wow, what a list. I have to agree, these people are heroes that go unsung by many but deserve their names to be mentioned. Up and awesome.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Alastar ~ Thank you, kind Sir. I think they should get more play and am most happy to have introduced you to them. I'm hoping to get the next five cranked out tomorrow. Thanks bunches for the read and encouraging comment. God bless and happiest of hubbing!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you for bringing these everyday American heroes and heroines to the site, Vix. I must admit to having never known of their stories. Look forward to reading your next 5 choices who no doubt will all be as worthy as these you've so righteously presented.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Martie - Great to see you on this fine Sunday morning. I hope all is well for you. Thank you for dropping by and leaving, as always, a kind and gracious comment. God bless and happiest of hubbing!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Such shocking stories! All ten of them are certainly heroes. Excellent hub, poetvix, relevant information well-presented.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Glimmer Twin Fan - Thank you! I'm really glad you found something new. Isn't it ironic, when I sat down to think about this list of course I had a villains list running too. That one grew so fast... names just popped into my head. The hero list, not near as long or as fast to come to mind. Maybe that's part of the problem. The media doesn't place our societal focus on the good but rather promotes the worst to get ratings. God bless you and happy, happy hubbing!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      This is a really powerful and awesome hub! The stories were not all new to me, but many were and they were riveting. Thanks for a great hub!

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      James - It's good to see you! Thank you for taking the time. I'm really glad you enjoyed them. I was hoping with this to do something a little more positive, for lack of a better word. Have an awesome weekend. God bless and happy hubbing!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Great Hub; great selections. I enjoyed reading these heroic stories. Thank you for an excellent article.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Eddy - Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave a comment. You are a sweetie - pie! God bless and you have a great weekend too!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Amazing poetvix;and I vote across the board.Take care and enjoy your weekend.


    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Born2care2001 - Thank you for the read and comment. Yes, many of the accounts of our heroes saddened me greatly. And yet, at the same time they inspired me. While it's a harsh thought, I guess it comes down to the fact that character is forged in the fires of tribulation. What is so worthy of hero status, to me, is that they rise above it.

      "The faith in the basic goodness of humanity." I really like that. Thank you so much. God bless you and happy hubbing!

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      6 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hi poetvix,

      Gore is not my cup of tea. Stupidity isn't either. Your hub saddened me there are peeps out there who just don't care about humanity. I also note however, that there are those willing to help, when help is the only thing to do. These heroes acted because that's what heroes do.

      They are defenders of the faith...the faith in the basic goodness of humanity. That's what this hub read to me.

      Thank you for what was probably a difficult write too!



    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Sir Frog - Always a pleasure to have you stop by. Thank you! It's good to be back. It's all the more so because of people like you, like all of you above, who actually tell the truth! You are all heroes. I bet every one of you has taken some heat for telling it like it is. I know you have. But, you still do it because it needs to be done. Your name says it all. You are a prince!

      God bless. I won't say happy hubbing for your topics are far from happy, but they are important and NEEDED!

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Tirelesstraveler - Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much yours and the other kind comments here are cheering me up! Thank you. I like your definition. It's true. How many people go around everyday slaving and killing themselves just to feed those they love. Do they ever get any credit or recognition? No. But they do it. And, who do we hear about on the news? Only the ones that don't.

      God bless and keep you always and happy hubbing!

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      SubRon7 - I'm laughing here about your "but that's you" comment. You know me well!

      I'm glad to be back. I have missed you all. I have missed this place. I can't wait to get back in the groove. I'm rusty! God bless you and may all of your hubbing be happy.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Tammyswallow - Thank you so much. I'm not all that for sure, but I really appreciate your saying it. I firmly believe God instilled the seeds of greatness within us all. God bless you and the happiest of hubbing!

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Frank - It's great to see you. Thank you so very much for the time and the kind comment. I have to say, some of the stories really brought tears to my eyes, esp. Austin. What a hero! God bless you!!!

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Welcome back poetvix. Great return in fact.

      The Frog

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Incredibly stirring. You are one of my hero's. My definition of a hero is and ordinary person who does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, which defines you nicely.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 

      6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Hellovahub, Poetvix, and I was surprised to come to the end, without it being the end, but that's you. Good to see you back

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      This would be a different country if we had more Americans like you. Excellent examples of real life heroes! This is such a well crafted hub!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      A very good list Poetvix mine would have different but with the same meaning.. and there is heroism in all man and woman kind bless you girl

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Mhatter99 - Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to read this. I firmly believe we all have it within us to be heroes. I think the problem is we have forgotten that very important fact. We have become conditioned to count on others, to doubt ourselves, to hide, to be quiet and to withdraw. God bless and thanks again.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Billybuc - "Twin cancers." I like that. It's very accurately descriptive. God knows how much I hope you are wrong about it taking a meltdown to wake people up, but I fear you may be right. I think some are waking up, but nowhere near enough. People are so wrapped up in their own little worlds, so busy, so distracted by modern crazy life, I don't think they see the impending train wreck that is our reality. That for many and just a flat out state of denial for others, very akin to that of a drug addict.

      I can't wait to catch up on my reading and soak up your thoughts. I wish I could say it will be soon. You, better than most, understand that with this being the first week of school and me being a teacher it's a bit like juggling five to do books at the now. It is a three day weekend though! My goal is a pot of coffee tomorrow night and knock all impending ARD paperwork, finish setting upgrade book, enter week one grades and get lesson plans done. That frees up the rest of the weekend for me! If I meet my goal. Big if.

      Have a good one!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      AGREED. Bless you. Real good work. I hope a lot people read and believe you. So many, many could be hero if they only took one step.

      Martin Kloess 33rd degree Freemason

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have written on that several times of late....complacency and apathy are the twin-cancers of society right now....and it's going to take an economic meltdown before people come to their senses....and then it may be too late. I am a pretty positive person but I don't feel positive about the future at all.

      God bless you, too, my friend.

    • poetvix profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      Billybuc - It's good to be back and really good to see you here. I'm glad you agree. I think we, collectively, have become so conditioned by over the top movies showing super-heroes and the glorification of sports figures and such that we forget there are heroes among us, real life normal people. With the current political climate I think we may need all the heroes we can get, and soon too.

      I think we are being conditioned in so many ways but two ways that stand out are the trend towards mediocrity and the other is the pandemic of apathy. To me, all of these people are the antithesis of those currently trending social maladies.

      God bless you and thanks bunches for the read and kind words.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It sure is nice to have you back, and pulling no punches as is your norm. Heroes? Damn right these people are heroes!

      Looking forward to the next installment; bravo on this one and welcome back!



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    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)