Americans have warped sense of heroism; clarify word ‘hero’

Americans have warped sense of heroism; clarify word ‘hero’

Too often I read in the papers, hear on the radio or see on the TV, people who are called heroes. I believe in giving true heroes their due, even though they don’t seek such recognition; clarification of the word “hero” is needed. But first, let’s look at some of the people who are consistently referred to as hero.

They are survivors of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, survivors of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, the injured folks who survived various mass shootings at schools, malls, and the theaters around the country. The injured people who survived these tragic events and who struggle every day of their lives to overcome their physical and mental disabilities are to be commended for their courage and strength of character.

However, these people are not heroes. God bless them, but they’re people who found themselves in a situation they did not choose. To call these very unfortunate people heroes only detracts, and undeservedly so, from the men and women who have consciously put their lives in jeopardy, whenever, and wherever such a moment in time arises. Examples: Men and women on the battlefield who put themselves in harm’s ways when the bullets are flying to rush across the battlefield to retrieve a fallen comrade, or innocent civilians caught in a crossfire, or the police and firefighters who rushed into the smoke-filled ruins of the World Trade Center with little regard for their own lives. How about the man or woman driving down a roadway who comes upon a burning car, rushes over to try and extract the occupants without regard for their own safety?

Everyday, there are numerous examples of said selfless acts of courage. These are the true heroes in the strictest sense of the word, so please, in the future, let’s not demean the word “hero” by carelessly using it when an event comes up that doesn’t deserve such recognition.

Robert DeFelice Sr., Youngstown