National Heroes’ Day: Celebrating Underwater Heroes
We talk a lot about scuba diving and really focus on it being this recreational, leisurely and fun activity, which it is! But scuba diving was born out of necessity, and just because many have learned to have fun with it, doesn’t mean it’s not a dangerous and daring job for many others. People take on scuba diving as medical professionals, for search and rescue, crime scene investigation, forensics, and to serve their country. Heroes can even be found amongst recreational divers, like a scuba diving buddy who saves a friend in need and the impressive efforts of freediving safeties. So we’re taking a moment, right here around National Heroes Day, to highlight those who selflessly put themselves at risk to help and often save others in the sea.
What is National Heroes’ Day?
National Heroes’ Day is a recent holiday here in the United States, having started during 2020. Heroes can be celebrated every day and certainly deserve to be, but it’s nice to have a dedicated day just for them. Who are the heroes we mention, you ask? Well, they could be anyone you admire for their noble actions and courage. It could be a friend or a stranger who you’ve seen go above and beyond for the sake of others' health and safety. For this blog, we will spotlight the heroes of the diving community. Of course, our dive buddy who offered us an octo when our regulator acted up, ensuring we got back to the surface safely, is a hero. The freediving safety who swam their buddy to the surface when they blacked out is a hero. Our parents, who had us scuba diving since we were kids, making sure we respected but never feared the ocean, are heroes. These are heroes we know personally. These are the heroes we interact with everyday. There are, of course, other heroes in scuba diving who we may not know personally and who deserve every moment of this day to be celebrated too.
When you think of people who put their lives on the line while scuba diving, the first sort of people you may think of are the Navy SEALs. Between the action-packed movies based on them (I’m thinking G.I. Jane here, obviously) and the media attention around their grueling training, we know the Navy SEALs go through some hardcore conditions and risks for their countrymen. But did you know that other military branches have dive teams? While every U.S. military branch has a dive team, the Marine’s and Air Force’s teams are smaller and less used than that of the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard’s teams. The Navy, for obvious reasons, has an extensive scuba diving history, outfit, and training. Our military is celebrated throughout the year, but for National Heroes Day, we’d like to offer an extra token of appreciation to the scuba divers who serve our country from beneath the surface.
Search & Rescue Teams, Crime Scene Investigation, & Forensics
Another group of heroes that we’d like to highlight are those committed to underwater search and rescue, crime scene investigation, and forensics. Not only are these divers under aquatic pressure, they’re under additional pressure to get the job done fast and right. From the FBI to your local police departments, scuba diving is often an element of law enforcement that we may not have ever really thought about. What’s interesting about some of the more small town Police Dive Units is the collective effort of the surrounding community. There may be civilian volunteers with the qualifications (and specialized training) to take on a specific job, making all the difference in how things turn out. Training for these jobs include salvage ops, sonar, evidence collection, body recoveries, ice operations, hull/pier sweeps, and more. The risks these divers put themselves in to bring justice and closure to a case is about as noble and heroic as it gets.
SCUBA Medical Technicians
Often overlooked amongst our heroes on land, we refuse to miss out on shining a spotlight on the medics of the SCUBA world. These individuals are often the swaying force between life and death for their patients, and that pressure is not lost on them. Not only is there a need to respond fast and train hard to a variety of medical scenarios, the varying environments they may find themselves in, whether underwater or assisting distressed or injured divers on boat or land (or all of the above) means that these medical dive professionals have to stay adaptable and ready for anything. There are an incredible number of divers (both in SCUBA and freediving) who are alive today because of the immense knowledge and clever adaptability of these individuals.
Environmental Heroes in Diving
We’ve discussed divers who dive for their country, who dive to save others and get to the bottom of a crime, and who support the recovery and save the lives of other divers. Then there are divers who dive to save the planet. Many recreational divers have a hand in this at times. Any time you’ve released an animal from an entanglement, joined in on an underwater clean up, or reported hazardous spill/waste in the water, you’ve been a hero for the environment. Of course there are divers who take on environmental efforts as their jobs, often in the name of researching and conserving marine animals and ecosystems. A few careers that involve diving for the planet include Conservation Biologist, Hydrologist, Marine Biologist, and your local Divemaster. The cool thing about environmental heroes is, other than having your scuba certifications, you don’t need special training to make a difference. Getting out there, being respectful of the ocean and its inhabitants, and cleaning up and reporting pollution where you see it can make you a dive hero too.
Gratitude for Our Underwater Heroes
Basically, what we’re trying to say is thanks! Thanks to all the heroes everywhere and thanks to our underwater heroes, too. Your service and dedication to diving for a cause greater than yourself means everything.
If you know a dive hero in your life, be sure to show your appreciation. They could simply be an inspiration to you, someone you know personally who has gone above and beyond for others and animals. Or maybe they’re someone who dives in challenging and often dangerous conditions for their noble line of work. Whoever you look up to as a hero, celebrate them a little extra for National Heroes’ Day on October 8!
Who qualifies as a hero?
There are many ways to define ‘hero’, but mostly a hero can be anyone who goes above and beyond for a cause greater than themselves. Many times we see heroes put themselves at tremendous risk to save the lives of others. Of course, a hero could simply be someone who inspires us through their bravery and noble actions in any form.
When is National Heroes’ Day?
National Heroes’ Day is October 8.
How do I show appreciation for my heroes?
You can show appreciation for your heroes by simply saying thank you, perhaps sharing why you appreciate them. Maybe our heroes are far away or unreachable or a group of people rather than a single person. Then you can simply share with others, in whatever way you like, how much you appreciate the work that people do. For instance, this blog was our way of saying thank you to the heroes that often go unsung.
Can anyone do Navy SEALs training?
Just about! A civilian can apply for Navy SEAL training or you can transfer from another military branch. But you’ll need to be 18-28 years old and have a high school degree.
Can anyone be an environmental hero?
Being an environmental hero is possibly the most accessible for everyone. Simply sharing information about the ocean’s ecosystem and how others can help is a start. Joining a local dive cleanup or volunteering at a coral restoration center could be your next step.