There is, of course, an argument that our modern world is awash with heroes, but we know better.
Politicians, athletes, movie stars and pop singers all command attention as never before. And although many people gush over the famous, there is something distinctly un-heroic about most.
In an age of celebrity, real heroes and role models are difficult to identify. We often lack proper examples, it would seem.
But even today, by dint of character and integrity, some have a superior claim on our respect and admiration.
A man of quite intensity, Dr. James Moye was one of those people – an unsung pioneer, a relic of a noble era, among the last of his kind.
He was born on February 9, 1921, as an only son. His mother’s little friend, he had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Raised in Laurel, Mississippi, he then entered the Army Air Corp, becoming a commissioned pilot in 1943. After serving 14 months as a flight instructor, he was assigned to the 451 Bomb Group in Italy during World War II.
No doubt, he was a man of courage.
Later that year, on Friday, October 13 at 1300 hours, he was shot down over Vienna, Austria while flying his 13th combat mission.
No doubt, he was a man of bravery.
After being captured by German soldiers, he spent eight months in prison camps, moving from location to location. Then, after two failed escape attempts, he was successful on the third, returning to the Allies just prior to the war’s end.
No doubt, he was a man of determination.
Just prior to entering the war, he married his childhood sweetheart and best friend, Mae Eleanor Freeman. They were married for 68 years.
No doubt, he was a man of loyalty.
Upon his discharge from the service, he enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry, graduating in 1947. He and his wife returned to Laurel where he began his optometric practice. He worked until his 80th birthday in 2001.
No doubt, he was a man of devotion.
Active in numerous organizations, he served his state and nation in many capacities. He was President of the Mississippi Optometric Association for two years. He was both Chairman and Member of the American Optometric Association Practice Administration Committee and worked on the American Optometric Association Interprofessional Relations Committee, just to name a few. He also served on the State Board of Health.
No doubt, he was a man of sacrifice.
Determined to thank the Red Cross for its help when he was a prisoner of war, he served as a Board Member and Chairman of the Red Cross of Jones County, working with the group for more than 50 years.
No doubt, he was a man of compassion.
A member of the Republican Party for 60 years, Dr. Moye is recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Mississippi GOP. He was a delegate to national conventions in 1964, 1968 and 1980. He likewise served as a Republican National Committeeman and a member of the National Republican Executive Committee.
No doubt, he was a man of conviction.
He was active in the Presbyterian Church, serving as a charter member of Trinity Presbyterian Church and later Covenant Presbyterian Church. He taught Sunday School continually for more than 60 years.
No doubt, he was a man of faithfulness.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, two daughters, two sons-in-law, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
No doubt, he will be missed.
By any definition, he had all the qualities of an storybook hero — a person of honor, by instinct, by inevitability.
He never admitted it, never thought of it; but through his life, he has won a glorious name, along with the everlasting remembrance wherein his renown is enshrined — within the hearts of those who were blessed to know him. Such is the whispered promise of immortality reserved for a fortunate few.
To those who say modernity will bring nightfall to the age of heroes, you underestimate our resolve and the legacy of our friend.
If you are still looking for a role model, then look no further.
And if you are seeking hope in a culture corrupted by cynicism, then take this fine man for your example.
***** State Senator Chris McDaniel