I have a problem with the overuse/misuse of the word hero, especially by such villainous/cowardly bile producers as Fox News, talk radio agitators, and anyone with a blog that thinks having an opinion makes him/her a genius. Not every soldier serving in a war is a hero: most merely do their duty (some more, some less) and are happy to survive. Unfortunately, the military likes to hand out pieces of colored thread to make themselves feel good about the suffering they cause and have managed to convince quite a few folks of their value.
I “earned” one of the higher combat decorations, but I do not consider myself a hero. I did the job I was sent to do, which included submitting myself to danger. Because little action had been occurring, someone felt the need to “create” some heroes. The citation is a fine piece of fiction, although it does describe an actual event.
I returned to a country that scorned military service and rejected those that served. Men and women in uniform were forced to shoulder the blame for flawed political decisions. Therefore, I am happy that people in the military do receive some recognition from the public, because they are still shouldering burdens of and suffering for flawed political decisions.
Perhaps Fox News considers military service to be heroic, because they do not understand what any kind of service entrails. Vain attempts to give value to boring jobs in a meaningless (except to profiteers) war in which lives of men and women are unnecessarily wasted or destroyed with injuries. Most joined the military, because no other jobs were to be had in a country that shipped most jobs overseas.
Call a spade a spade and apply “hero” only to those that do something out of the ordinary to help comrades. Everyone else is merely doing a job, no matter how dumb or meaningless and no matter of the proximity of danger. That goes with the territory.
I wrote the other day about the idiocy of titles. Most are unearned or bestowed because of money paid or connections. I do believe in “heroes”, which can have a number of definitions. It ranges from unnamed men and women, who toil in the service of others. At the other end of the spectrum, it stands for someone that stands up against difficult odds without desire for compensation or, even, recognition to do what is “right”. There may be no such thing as right or wrong, but certain values and principles have come be accepted as common and decent practice.
Last night, I saw a movie about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. This guy is a hero, although he has been branded many other names by those who were exposed as liars, cheaters, and profiteers.
If men and women in government lie, the hurt the country and the democracy they have sworn to uphold (1st lie). They usually do this to protect themselves and to remain in power…to further sully the position. People that protect them are said to be uphold democracy; anyone that points out the truth is called a traitor. “Patriotism” has been usurped by politicians to mean anything that might harm their grip on power.
There is a key sentence in the film, uttered by Ellsberg. He says that the Pentagon Papers are not about foreign policy or the war; they are about domestic policy. Various administrations did not want voters to know the truth to protect their positions.
Having been deceived by the government and fooled into doing their bidding (and was lucky enough to survive, unlike friends), I consider Ellsberg to be an American hero. More like him would make the world a better place, but the odds have been stacked against such citizens. I respect him, because I would never have the courage to do what he did.
*Mini-German Word of the Day meaning “authority of state”, but the word Gewalt also means violence, force, power…which is what any citizen must withstand, if he or she wants to protest against corruption.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.