Hero: a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. (dictionary.reference.com)
Real heroes don’t ride in on white horses to save the day. They are not inspired by ego, by the need to be thanked, recognized, or rewarded; they are not in it to impress anyone, even (least of all) themselves.
Real heroes come when they are needed. Sometimes they know it’s too late; they come anyway. Sometimes they know they have to leave again too early; they do what they can, while they can.
Real heroes do the hard slogging work of taking care of the wounded. They doubt themselves, and blame themselves, and show up the next day to do it again.
Real heroes do what they do out of love.
At least, the ones I admire do.