A hero….

There are a few words people use that make me absolutely mental. It’s not the actual word…the collection of letters that drives me up the wall, but more the misuse or overuse. Today, I’d like to discuss the word her0.

1. Hero:  The  Oxford Dictionary describes the meaning of the word as……a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero.

I translate this definition in my mind to someone who is exceptional. Not your average Joe Blow. I think the term hero should be reserved for the exclusive use of someone who is the bravest, someone who stands out above all others. Someone who is deliberately willing to display courage for the sake of others with no thought of selfishness or self-preservation.

So why are we using this word to describe anyone who is just doing their job, or is doing something a bit better than average, or is doing something they are supposed to be doing?

It seems to me, hero is the word of the moment….and it’s making me completely insane.

When the media describes every soldier that goes to war as a hero….how do we distinguish the truly brave from those who are just doing their job? Is every soldier a hero? No, not in my mind. The majority are performing the job they signed up for, the job they have been trained for. There is an expectation when one joins the armed forces that the need to go to war, to fight, may be required.

Amongst those thousands of troops heading off to fight….there are a few, maybe a handful who are true heroes. Sure, they are all brave and courageous, but there are a handful who are a level above all others.

The soldier who despite being outnumbered and under heavy attack  single-handedly holds back insurgents so that his platoon can escape to safety, is to me, a true hero.

The soldier who deliberately puts himself in the line of fire, who crosses enemy lines to retrieve the injured and carry them to safety, is a true hero.

The soldier who storms the enemy position with total disregard for his own safety therefore allowing his fellow troops to escape to safer ground or reposition themselves and break into enemy ground, is a true hero.

In the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ we reward these exceptional soldiers with The Victoria Cross,  in the USA the closest equivalent would be The Congressional Medal of Honor.

I think the word hero….in military terms at least, should be reserved for the sole use of these outstanding soldiers only.

I’m not saying that all those who serve in our armed forces are not courageous or brave. I am not saying that I don’t appreciate the work they do. What I am saying is I think the media should be saving the word “hero” for only the most courageous or most brave amongst them.

An act of valour, of true gallantry is rare, very, very rare. By overusing the word hero, are we watering down its meaning?

By grouping together the average and the exceptional and labelling them all heroes….are we diluting the meaning for those who are the most brave, the most gallant, who display the most courage, those who go above and beyond the capabilities of the average.

I think we should save the word hero for only the truly outstanding amongst us…..as it should be.


2 thoughts on “A hero….

  1. This did not go in the direction I thought it would. I agree the word is used too much today. I have a problem with it used to describe average Joe citizen or athletes. That is where it drives me crazy.

    I have no problems in today’s times with the word hero used to describe anyone in the Military, especially the Army. These people that sign up freely know they will end up in Afghanistan. They have seen the coverage for the last 10 years so they know what is going on and still are willing to take the plunge. So I am not so bothered by the term.

    I was in the Air Force in the early 80’s under Reagan. I thought for sure he would kick some shit off. However I served in peace time with the only incident was when we were activated to send people to the Grenada incident. To this day I am uncomfortable being called a Vet, because I was in a total peace time Military. So during my time of service I would agree with you completely about the use of the word hero…but not today.

  2. Thanks for contributing Dan. I welcome opinions from all. Different points of view make for interesting discussions and it is healthy to hear all sides of thought.
    I was originally going to step into athletes or pop stars also being described as heroes as you alluded to….but decided to save that for another day…..that really gets my goat up.

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