Things we say
Nearly every acceptance speech known to recent man includes the words, “I am humbled by this award.”
As sometimes happens, the word is incorrectly used, likely for the simple reason that “everyone is doing it.” Someone said it, and the phrase had a nice ring to it and the mistake was repeated.
Generally, it is supposed that what the awardee wishes to say is she is “honored,” not humbled. She may be grateful, happy, even ecstatic, but not humbled.
Keep this in mind the next time you accept an Oscar.
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“Hero” is another vastly overused word. These days if Sir Walter Raleigh were to lay his coat over a muddy path so Queen Elizabeth wouldn’t get her shoes muddy, he would be labeled a hero. Google has a list of heroes. What the list seeks to spotlight are those who the list’s writers believe have “added quality and meaning to our lives,” but call them heroes. The list shows all manner of artists including Bob Hope, CoCo Chanel and Carol Burnette; authors, including Judy Blume and J.K. Rowling; athletes, Mickey Mantle and Nadia Comaneci; poets, Dr. Seuess and Maya Angelou; and heroes of heroes, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Duke Elington. While they may be held in high esteem, not one of these would fit the definition of hero.
Keep this in mind when someone spouts off about being a war hero. Commonly, those who were there speak little of their experiences; the braggarts have big enough holes in their stories that a person could walk through but if they are in the presence of people who don’t know any better, the stories may seem true. A good way to measure the veracity of a “war hero” is to notice if they talk about their exploits when there are other veterans of the same war or military school, such as Ranger school or Seal training, in their conversation circle. Usually there are not and if one comes in, the stories abruptly cease. That is when you know the hero is not what he says he is.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I could write a book,” on fill-in-the-blank. But they don’t. I wish they would. There are so many memories being made every day. It is the everyday activities and histories people long to read. As the author of five vintage-photo history books in print, I can vouch for this interest.
There is a secret to writing a book and I’ll share it here. Sit down and write! Pretty easy, huh?
Family stories are incredibly valuable to your offspring. You don’t have to write perfectly, nor worry about grammar and spelling. Write like you talk, after all you are simply telling stories.
If you want to write — whether it’s for family reading or public consumption — at some point you have to quit interviewing, contemplating, researching, making notes, digging up old photos or any other writing-related activity that keeps you from the actual task of writing. Just write. ❖
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