Today is the third anniversary of my nephew’s death. His name was Christian Liam Connelly, and he was three days shy of turning 10. You can read more about him in my first post.

I briefly mentioned his character and spirit. No words I can string together will ever be able to do him any justice, but here is a feeble attempt to convey just how incredible he was.

I’ve met and known a lot of great individuals in my travels through life. One of my grandfathers was a sailor in WWII. He survived being sunk at Guadalcanal. After the war, he was a pillar of the community whom everybody knew and loved, and he was an all-around great man. My other grandfather was a fighter pilot in the navy and marines. He never saw combat, but was good enough at what he did that he became a test pilot. He is also a great man, wise and funny, and if I can be 1/8th of the man he is, I’ll have turned out ok. One of my uncles works in the Naval Yard in DC, in the very building that was being shot up during that rampage last year. He led a bunch of people to safety. He’s also a volunteer firefighter, and another person everyone can look up to. I served with a plethora of consummate professional badass heroes while I was in the Army. Guys who are crazy enough to run towards bullets and such. And countless other inspirations and great people.

But they all pale in comparison to Christian. He handled his ordeal with a combination of grace, humor, compassion, and steely reserve that you’d normally expect to find in a Navy SEAL, not an 8-9 year old kid. And the fact that, even on his worst days, he just wanted everyone else to smile and be happy seals the deal: Christian is my Hero.

Maybe you have or had somebody in your life like Christian, somebody who is your Hero, who inspires you to make the world a better place. If you don’t, I’m willing to share.


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