Heroes Among Us

In early 2010, our vice president Holly Biller, event manager Tina Czar and I visited Louisville to check out the city as a possible venue for Auto Glass Week and the International Window Film Conference & Tint-Off. As part of our work there, we were looking for a place to hold an offsite cocktail party—a place that was very unique and very Louisville. Our Convention Bureau guides had suggested we visit the Muhammad Ali Center right in downtown. I, a middle-aged woman who never understood boxing, must have rolled my eyes at the thought of visiting a museum dedicated to a boxer… but, hey, the convention people were really positive about how great it would be a for an event, so off we went. “We will just run in and run out,” I said, almost apologetically to Tina and Holly, at having to go at all.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (click to view)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (click to view)

Boy was I wrong.

I realized almost immediately that the Ali Center was way more than a homage to a boxing career. It was about a man who truly lived what he believed. To me, boxing is a rather barbarian sport, yet there in North Louisville, not ten miles from where Ali was born, was a living breathing building dedicated to peace and understanding among peoples. And Ali was the instrument of that peace and understanding.

We ended up touring the facility for nearly two hours. Some of the exhibits took my breath away. Others rang clear with the message that Ali was more than a man; he truly believed what he lived and lived what he believed. His commitment to peace was overwhelmingly clear. What an amazing paradox, that a man famous for his prowess in the most violent and personal of sports became known for his work to end violence in a most global way.

And maybe because of his passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes this past week, especially what constitutes a hero and what characteristics they all have. Heroes, real heroes, do what they do because it is what they feel they it’s the right thing to do. And they often do so at great personal risk.

Thomas Biller

There are well-known heroes like Ali, and there are heroes in our every day life. For example, Holly’s husband, Thomas Biller, was the recent recipient of the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce 31st Valor Award for actions of extraordinary nature that display an outstanding execution of duties. Thomas, a lieutenant in the Fairfax, Va. Fire and Rescue Department, occasionally and carefully risks his life to save others, as he did in this case. I am proud to know him.

People who take unpopular positions because they are the right positions to take are also heroes, albeit unsung ones. And they often labor right next to us, though we may never think of them as champions. But they are. It took a whole bunch of heroes to put their own self interests aside and make safety a priority to help publicize the dangers of wired glass … it took unsung heroes to get standards put in place for glass in furniture … and to work with the CPSC to introduce safety glazing regulations all those years ago when the idea of such regulation was extremely unpopular. Some of these individuals did so at great risk to their careers and reputations, but they did so because it was the right thing to do. So even our glass industry has its heroes, and I have been privileged to know many of them as well.


P.S. Here’s another hero in a different way. If you happen to talk to our associate publisher Lisa Naugle this month, wish her a happy anniversary. You see, Lisa is a different kind of hero … the kind who took a chance on a magazine that needed a lot of work 20 years ago when she first joined the USGlass magazine team. We have worked together all that time since, when Lisa dove in headfirst that spring. Thanks and happy anniversary to Lisa.