Thursday, August 18, 2005


The word "hero" has taken on too broad of a meaning these days. It's meaning is getting watered down by media reports calling everyone a "hero." The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines a hero as a person "of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” Lance Armstrong is a phenominal athlete and an inspriation for millions of Americans, but he is not a hero.
To me, a hero is someone who risks their safety (especially their life) to do something good for other people, especially saving a life.
I think it's a lot like the Army's Soldier's Medal. To get this medal, you have to save someone's life a great risk to your own life. Giving someone the Heimlich to save their life will get you an ARCOM (Army commendation medal), but you aren't getting a soldier's medal because your own life was not at risk. Pulling a family of four out of a burning car before it explodes, however, will net you a Soldier's Medal because you risked your own life to do it.
The cops and firefighters who fought against a tide of fleeing civilians and ran up into the World Trade Center while it was burning on 9/11 are heroes. Cindy Sheehan is not.
The soldier who fought off 100 advancing Iraqis from an exposed position in order to cover his buddies' withdrawl is a hero. The AIDS victim facing their disease with dignity is still not a hero.
Let's save the word "hero" for those that really earn it.