Article | Who Are Our Heroes?

Remembrance Day 2006 in London, England

Remembrance Day 2006 in London, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On November 11th, people in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, France and the United States celebrate a holiday designed to honour our military heroes – those who have fought in our armed forces to keep our nations free. Whether it is called Remembrance Day (Australia, Canada, Great Britain), Armistice Day (Belgium, France) or Veterans’ Day (U.S.A.), it is a time to recall the sacrifices made by others in defence of a now grateful nation. We look to those men and women for inspiration, to see courage in the face of peril, to see hope in the darkest of days. We celebrate with parades and music, prayers and moments of silence.

But heroes aren’t just from the military. Sometimes they are great people like India’s own Mahatma Gandhi whose birthday is celebrated on October 2. Some countries, like the Philippines, celebrate a day just for heroes – unnamed, sometimes unsung – but those who have shown great courage in adverse situations. We want heroes to be people who demonstrate qualities that we wish to admire and emulate. Not sports figures or movie stars or  beautiful models – but people who “rise to the occasion and slip quietly away.” (Tom Brokaw).

Who are your country’s heroes? How are they celebrated? Children can learn much about who they are as citizens by finding the answers to these very questions. Similar information could be found from other countries. The chart below gives an example of what the students could research. Using such a chart  would help children organize the raw data.

Hero Matrix

Question / Country





Name of one national hero 
Celebration Date 
What celebrations take place? 
Why is this person celebrated? 


It will be up to the teacher to help them compare and contrast the information to draw meaningful conclusions. They might include such questions as:

  • Who would you admire?
  • Why did you choose that person?
  • How would you celebrate their courage?
  • Could an ordinary person be a hero?

The discussion that follows will challenge your students to use their critical thinking skills to explain their point of view. They see their personal opinion as valuable to others. And they see the heroes of the world in a new light.

Susan Ward

Susan Ward

Retired elementary school principal. Currently a part-time instructor at Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. I work with teacher candidates placing them in schools and evaluating their teaching skills. I also teach a 20 hour course in social studies curriculum to teacher candidates. I have been an educator for over 35 years and am committed to having the best prepared new teachers we can develop, coming into the field.

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