The Hero Label

We expect all who wear uniforms – military personnel and first responders alike – to be brave, to show determination and courage when facing great danger. When duty puts life at risk, we honor boldness and success. The individual earns the right to be called a hero. It is earned, never given.

Recently, we celebrated the final reunion of a group of historic, heroes, the Doolittle Raiders. Social engineering has moved us away from equal opportunity toward equal results. Calling everyone in uniform a hero reduces it to a “category,” an attempt to have’ an equal outcome for all who serve.

I appreciate the sincere desire of those who remember the shameful treatment of Vietnam era draftees returning from war to assure that it won’t happen in this generation. Are we so focused on not letting others shamefully denigrate our warriors that we depreciate their efforts by the careless use of a word?

No one can designate a person a “hero” as you might designate a person your barber. People become heroes through their reaction to circumstances, most likely forced upon them by outside forces and not at a time of their choosing. You don’t attend and graduate from “hero school.”

What we want to say about our sons and daughters in uniform is that they are among the most courageous of our nation. That is appropriate and honors them without depreciating the extraordinary honor bestowed upon a few for their actions when their lives, or the lives of others, are at risk. 

Lee Jackson – Shalimar