Below The Beltway

I believe in the free speech that liberals used to believe in, the economic freedom that conservatives used to believe in, and the personal freedom that America used to believe in.

Are The People Killed And Wounded At Fort Hood Heroes ?

by @ 8:43 am on November 11, 2009. Filed under Education, In The News

James Joyner makes a pretty convincing case for the argument that they are not:

[T]he fact of the matter is that these people and their loved ones are tragic victims of senseless violence, no more heroic than others who are randomly killed.

This isn’t a criticism of Obama per se. General George Casey did the same thing in his remarks. We have a natural, understandable tendency to want to elevate people killed in these nationally unifying events as heroes. We did it for the 9/11 victims. But most of those who died working in their offices in the Twin Towers — or even the Pentagon — were just ordinary Joes trying to earn a living, who had no inkling of the danger they were in.

The people aboard Flight 93 who took on the hijackers to prevent them from crashing into an unknown target? Heroes. The people in the Towers and the Pentagon who responded to crisis by trying to help others? Heroes. The firefighters and police officers who rushed into the burning buildings at great personal risk to save others? Definitely: Heroes.

Similarly, police Sergeant Kim Munley, who shot and captured Major Nidal Malik Hasan, doubtless preventing him from killing more people, was a hero.

Most of those who died, on both 9/11 and that day at Fort Hood, by contrast, had no opportunity for heroism. They were taken by surprise while going about their daily routine and murdered. They did not “give” their lives; they were robbed of them.

Now, as President Obama noted in his roll call, many of them were genuinely heroes in how they lived their lives. Some were decorated veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and they were all serving their country. But getting gunned down by a psychopath isn’t an act of heroism. It’s a senseless tragedy.

I’ve got to agree with James.

We live in a culture now where words like “hero” are tossed around without any real thought about what they really mean:

hero [ˈhɪərəʊ]

n pl -roes

1. a man distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, fortitude, etc.
2. a man who is idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field
3. (Myth & Legend / Classical Myth & Legend) Classical myth a being of extraordinary strength and courage, often the offspring of a mortal and a god, who is celebrated for his exploits
4. the principal male character in a novel, play, etc.
[from Latin hērōs, from Greek]

Dying in a tragedy is sad, but it’s not an act of heroism and, quite honestly, not everyone who has served in the military deserves that title “hero.”

That’s not to diminish the contributions of the men and women who died at Fort Hood, or the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country today, but it is important to remember that when we talk about heroism we’re talking about something extraordinary that deserves to be recognized and appreciated separate and apart from the service of others.

Just like not every smart child is a genius, not every solider is a hero.

2 Responses to “Are The People Killed And Wounded At Fort Hood Heroes ?”

  1. tfr says:

    I don’t even like the word “tragedy” for these events. It somewhat implies that it was accidental or just a quirk of fate.
    I prefer “atrocity”.

  2. Rock says:

    “Just like not every smart child is a genius, not every solider is a hero” . . . proclaim the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.

    Try telling the parents and relatives of the dead soldiers at FT. Hood that their sons and daughters aren’t heroes and I suspect that you’ll receive a few large lumps on your noggin. At least we should wait until flowers cover their graves and the tears dry up before we break the news to their parents. Mr. Joyner should know better unless he is ashamed of his own service in the US Army. But I don’t think he is.

    Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it. – Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777

[Below The Beltway is proudly powered by WordPress.]