Is the guy who scores the winning touchdown a hero, or is it the Medal of Honor recipient?
Okay, friends, today I’m going to be a cranky old curmudgeon…..just saying. It has to do with the current use of the word “hero” to describe about half the people who get out of bed each day. The word “hero” has been marginalized to the point that our kids and grand-kids have difficulty truly understanding what a real hero actually is. The DeSoto Arts Council (http://www.desotoarts.com/) Kids Summer Camp committee met yesterday, and the theme this year is “Super Heroes.” Don’t get me wrong. This is not to say we can’t have fun with Super Man, Spider-Man or Wonder Woman. Heck, I grew up on superheroes, and Mighty Mouse was my favorite. He kicked some serious cat butt for the endangered mouse community. However, what truly made my day was when the arts council managing director, Margaret Yates, said, “We want to make certain the kids first know what real heroes are…” I believe by the end of that first day of summer camp these kids will know. It’s the rest of America that concerns me.
My problem stems from the now widespread practice of describing just about anyone who does something fairly exceptional as being a hero. I have met sports stars, yes, but never a sports “hero.” I don’t even believe someone who is in the military as I was, or who is in law enforcement or who is a firefighter is by definition a hero. My definition of a hero is one who puts his or her life at immediate risk for the benefit of another person or a noble cause—with “immediate” being the keyword. Yes, it’s a little more restrictive than Webster’s definition, but I simply have a problem grouping people who play ball well with Medal of Honor Winners. Want to read about some real heroes? Check out http://www.cmohs.org. And there are many more real heroes who pass us on the street every day, including an entire generation that came home after the Vietnam war and was never recognized. This has always been one of the primary motivations for my Vietnam War fiction as I try to depict ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. The best war fiction doesn’t glorify the battle but the men who must fight it.
Am I tilting at windmills? Probably. Am I wasting my time? Probably. Will people stop referencing every Good Samaritan as a hero? It’s doubtful, but I had to say it. So, there, and now that I got that off my chest, we can move on…..or not. I’ll surely get lambasted for this one.
The featured photo this week is one I took a couple years ago near the Mississippi River not far from where I live. I was set up in a blind on the side of a slough waiting for a single buck or other critters to show up. It was late on a November afternoon and the rut was in full swing, but as I waited the sun began dropping lower and lower in the sky. It finally set behind the trees, and the light of day began rapidly receding.
Only then did I see this group of deer trotting through the Cypress, coming my way. I rapidly adjusted the camera for the decreasing light as a doe approached, followed by several suitors. In what is often the case with wildlife photography, I was blessed with a true stroke of luck when she stopped on the opposite bank to feed on the green grass growing beside the water. This resulted in the magnificent reflection. Note that a couple of the bucks have swollen necks and are about to face off. It was one of those rare moments in nature. Enjoy.