A soldier in Afghanistan rushes into the line of fire from an enemy machine gun to rescue his pinned down brothers-in-arms from certain death. He totally disregards his own life to save others. In the ensuing firefight the soldier saves eight men, but loses his leg in the process. After weeks of painful rehab and healing he tells reporters at the hospital that he was only doing his duty and would do the same thing over, if put into the same position. The soldier has no regrets about his actions. He is declared a HERO. I would go one better and say that he is the epitome of “hero.”
That being said let me put the word “hero” into perspective.
A baseball player hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs to win the pennant. He is given an award and proclaimed a hero. I can’t see where he risked his life or limb, but the people have spoken.
Two young men are walking down a city street at two-thirty in the morning and see smoke coming from a house. They run upon the porch and beat on the door to awaken the couple who are asleep inside the house. The men are in no danger of injury at any time and leave as soon as the couple rushes outside. The mayor’s office goes on television in search of the two men who are declared heroes. Although they risked absolutely nothing and were never in any harm, the city fathers have decided that they are, indeed, heroes and want to give them each a plaque proving that they are heroes.
A woman fights breast cancer and has a very rough time with the radiation and chemotherapy. She loses all her hair, and is not much more than skin and bones when the treatment finally ends. A month later an examination is performed and the doctor declares that she is cancer free, for the time being. After she regains her health she signs up for a Walk for the Cure event and her story is heard by everyone who is watching the evening news. At the end of her story the reporter asks several friends and relatives about their thoughts and is told that the woman is a true American hero. “She is so heroic and never once gave up. She will always be my hero.” The word “Hero” is on several balloons and bouquets.
A boy is riding his first tricycle down the sidewalk and turns it into the street. Before the mother can reach her child a strange man jumps into action and pulls the kid from the middle of the street. There were no cars in the general vicinity so the kid was in no immediate danger, but that won’t dissuade the “proclamation of heroism.” A teenager with a cell phone caught the act on video and before you could say hero, the video was on the local news stations. The anchors were gasping, oohing and ahing about what might have happened if the man had not been in the “right place at the right time.” I know what would have happened: the woman would have retrieved her own child and life would have continued on. However, being caught up in all the ridiculous furor, when asked about the incident the woman said, “I don’t know what would have happened if not for the man taking swift action and pulling my child to safety. He saved my baby’s life. He is my hero and always will be in my heart.” There was absolutely nobody in any danger what-so-ever, but the man was declared a hero.
“HERO SAVES DOG”
A man was in the woods hunting when he came upon a dog with an injured leg. He felt sorry for the animal, so he carried it back to his truck, gave it some water and beef jerky and finished his day of hunting. That afternoon he took dog into town and dropped it off at a vet and agreed to pay the vet bill to fix the dog’s leg. When he picked up the dog the vet was impressed and notified the local news of the man’s extreme generosity. They ran the story, calling the man a hero, and the owners of the lost dog saw the story and came forward to claim it. The news station gave the owners the address where the dog was and was waiting for them when they arrived. The lady who owned the dog was asked how she felt seeing her lost dog again and she said, “I am so happy to have him back again, and I am thankful that there are still heroes in this world.” Although she appeared to be crying, her face was dry and I could not see a single tear forming in her eyes. The reporter wrapped up by saying, “Hero? Indeed, in this reporter’s eyes Mr. X is definitely a hero.”
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point.
A baseball player hitting a home run is NOT a hero. He just did what he was paid to do. He did his job.
Beating on someone’s door to warn them is NOT heroic. They did what any human being would do. They were good samaritans. Worthy of respect, and deserving of thanks but not heroes.
Fighting cancer or any life threatening disease does NOT make a person a hero. It’s showing an extreme will to live and a stubborn refusal to give up, but they are not heroes. I’m happy to read about people beating cancer, but it is what it is.
Carrying a child out of the street, without any danger to either party, is NOT a hero. Once again he was a caring human being and good samaritan. Settle for a handshake and move on with life.
Finding a lost dog does NOT constitute being a hero. Unless the dog was in the mouth of a grizzly bear and he jumped on the bear’s back to pull the dog out of his mouth. But, in this instance that was not the case. The man was just another good samaritan and animal lover and did what comes natural to that type of person.
When a soldier risks his life, and loses a leg to save another person from certain death, he IS A HERO! If the soldier had stayed back and out of the line of fire he would probably still have both his legs. Of course, the other eight men would be dead, but nobody would know. except the soldier. He heard a cry for help and rushed in to answer that call without any thought to his own safety. At the risk of losing his life, he rushed in to help. That is the epitome of being a HERO.
I think it is time that we stopped watering down such a noble word as “hero” by using it for every act of good samaritanism and good will. Save it for the true heroes so that it will mean something when they are lying on a hospital bed listening to it being used to describe them. Or a child at a funeral listening to the word hero being used to describe his father who is about to be buried. Think about it.
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