It is hard to know exactly how to honor a hero, how to celebrate his or her accomplishments, how to remember them best.
Major League Baseball honors Jackie Robinson each season by picking an April day in which any player who so chooses can wear Robinson's No. 42, which was retired by baseball several seasons ago.
Last Sunday, hundreds of players accepted the opportunity. There were No. 42's across the country, on every team, on the backs of players of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. It is a sincere and moving gesture and an unassailable one because, even if only symbolically, it serves as a reminder that all players, not just black players, are in the debt of Robinson's contribution.
For me, however, the practice does nothing to reinforce the real greatness of Robinson's story. The essential accomplishment of Robinson's entry into the major leagues is that it was a solitary mission, against odds that were incalculable at the time. He was utterly alone, knowing that most opponents and some teammates were rooting for his failure.