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Empire of M

A rare and wonderful thing

On a cold, rainy November evening in 2001, my brother came to my rescue.

Okay, so I wasn't in any danger, but I was frustrated and angry. You see, my truck had a flat tire.

In high school, my parents had been kind enough - or perhaps cruel enough - to let me drive a very old, icky tan colored F-150 truck that I thought was prone to trouble - I learned later that I am actually prone to car trouble, not my vehicles.

Most days, I loved that truck, but days like that November evening, I was ready to kick a dent in its side - which one day, I did, just not that day.

See, that day, my brother came to my rescue. And though it was really cold, the ground was wet and he only had the parking lot lights of Sunnyside High School to see by, my brother changed that tire. And he did so without complaint or criticism. He didn't suggest waiting for my dad to get off work to handle it and he didn't call in friends to help.

He just changed the tire.

It was a simple enough act, I suppose. Tires are changed every day. But I think that was the first time I realized just how reliable my brother was...and he would always be.

Jesse "Ricky" Fierro could not have had it easy growing up. He was the only boy in a house of four sisters, but he weathered it well. He became that person in the family that no one wants to be angry with. And when the sisters were fighting (and they often were), he typically stayed neutral, never becoming spiteful and forgiving easily.

As the youngest, I am the only one of those four sisters who can claim Jesse as an "older" brother and he served that duty well.

He watched out for me and confronted bullies who picked on me - those were few and far between because people soon learned that I was "Jesse's little sister."

In high school, he often picked on me. In fact, he penned a nickname for me that I have yet to live down in my family. But nothing was done maliciously. It was just good natured teasing, which I learned to return.

Since high school, my brother has done a lot. He served with his National Guard unit in Iraq, married and is currently raising two adorable daughters.

And through it all, my brother has proven one simple fact about who he is - my hero.

My flat tire was not the first time Ricky came through for me and for the rest of our family. And through some of the biggest challenges in our lives, and his, he has kept a sense of humor and quick wit capable of defusing the most stressful moments.

My brother is a war veteran and when the day rolls around that we get to honor him publicly, we do, but I am reminded that one day is not enough to show true appreciation.

John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

When I read those words, I think about the little things people do every day that lets the veterans know we appreciate their sacrifices.

Me? I write and I report. Because men and women, people like my brother, fought and died, I get that freedom, to say and write what I want without fear of persecution.

But more importantly, I know that the freedoms I enjoy in America are a rare and wonderful thing.

And so are our veterans.

And so is my brother.

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