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Kent Bernhardt column: Most admited

The results for the 2010 Most Admired Man and Most Admired Woman Gallup Poll were recently announced.
The people at the top of the list are pretty much the people youíd expect to see.
For the third year in a row, President Obama is Americaís most admiredman, and Hillary Clinton is the Most Admired Woman.
Also-rans were predictable as well. Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama all posted strong numbers.
We need heroes, and I suppose most of us would gravitate toward a worldleader or celebrity if pressed by Gallup for a quick answer. They are the people in the headlines on a daily basis, and many have earned such admiration.
In 1972, The Salisbury Post visited my hometown of Faith to ask the same question: ěWhat American do you admire most?î
It was a simple poll question, part of a regular feature of The Salisbury Post at the time. A reporter would approach regular citizens on the street and ask some sort of survey question, write down your answer, and then have a photographer take your picture.
I participated in one of these at the Towne Mall once, and not only was my answer evasive, my picture turned out terrible.
But in the Faith Barber Shop in 1972, a few of Faithís finest citizens had pretty good answers. I carry the clipping with me today because my grandfather was one of them. Here are a few:
Gideon Misenheimer (my grandfather), U.S. Navy, retired: “Eisenhower. He was quite a leader.”
John Bruce, employee of McCombs and Company Grocery in Faith: ěBrian Piccolo. He just faced death in a courageous way, plus the way he got along in race relations.î
Ray McCombs, owner of McCombs and Company grocery: ěEisenhower, for different reasons. He was wise in his decisions.î
Bryce Ludwig, Faith Cleaners: ěMy dad, simply because of his honesty.î
Paul Huneycutt: ěMy daddy. It takes a pretty good man to raise seven kids honestly. And now itís my job to raise mine up. I got nine.î
Those were just the random responses of some members of our town one bright sunny day in 1972. They probably represented the opinions of a lot of Americans of the day.
Having had nearly 39 years to think it over, Iíve realized something important about heroes. They’re found all around us. And theyíre not always the people that you see regularly on television, or the ball park, or on a concert stage, or even in the military.
The fact is, the people who answered this question in 1972 didn’t know it, but they were busy being my heroes right then.
They were living lives of service to their fellow men in a small North Carolina town, reaching out in times of need to their neighbors and even strangers. They never earned headlines for their service, but I saw it in their daily lives countless times growing up. It still inspires me today.
My grandfather served his country as a Navy cook in World War II, and continued serving his fellow man all his life. No one donated more time to turn out mouth watering barbeque for the Faith 4th than he did through the years, often working through the hot summer night to keep the fires burning.
John Bruce, or Johnny as we knew him, tirelessly delivered groceries to the elderly in the community in that well worn pickup truck. He couldnít have earned much doing it. Heís just always been one of the good guys.
Bryce Ludwig, the local dry-cleaner, gave of his artistic talents in numerous ways. I well remember singing elbow to elbow with him in many Faith Community Chorus concerts. He once paid me the highest compliment a singer can receive. He said he liked singing next to me because I gave him confidence. Truth is, Bryce gave me inspiration. His enthusiasm for life was contagious.
And Ray McCombs was legendary in the town as a local business leader and humanitarian. He epitomized the golden rule in everything he ever did.
So youíll have to forgive me, but when Gallup asks me the question ěWho do you admire most?î they probably wonít be able to use my answer.
Iíll name a town full of people theyíve never heard of.
Iíll tell them of these people, along with my parents and every teacher I ever had.
They are my ěMost Admired Americans,î and they will have a permanent place of honor in my heart.
Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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