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HEROES: Deciding to serve is the heroic act

Letter by Ricardo Birmele, Buckley on May 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm with 37 Comments »
May 30, 2012 2:03 pm

Recently, while talking about “heroes,” MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes  said that he was “uncomfortable with the word because it seemed like a rhetorical device that could justify engaging in more wars.”

It seemed that Hayes was trying to come across as a thoughtful, objective intellectual. Unfortunately his trivializing, big-worded turn of phrase does not make him that. On the other hand, it does show that Hayes simply does not understand what it is to be a hero in this sense.

Most people who have served – either in the military or law enforcement – will tell you that getting shot, or blown up, or listening to a close friend die screaming doesn’t make one a hero. It’s a matter of luck; it’s either your time or theirs, or it’s not.

The heroic act comes way before the violence. These people become heroes when they quietly decide to serve, not knowing if it will be they who run out of luck and are killed or wounded. These people become heroes when they knowingly decide to put their life in harm’s way so that most of the rest of us don’t have to – even uncomfortable, effete poseurs like MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes.

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Leave a comment Comments → 37
  1. averageJoseph says:

    Just another example of how some people despise America and our American heros.

    MSNBC… LOL everytime I see a lefty whine about Fox News.

  2. menopaws says:

    Those who serve are indeed heroes. This country is far too lazy to appreciate that…….Didn’t Joe Walsh make fun of a disabled female veteran at one of his campaign rants??? It just isn’t the left—the right only appears to honor those veterans who don’t ask them questions……Both sides need to serve–I believe we should bring back the draft……..NO exemptions—those who have medical issues could work in hospitals or communities in need. Tired of all those who define their patriotism by complaining and whining, while others put their lives on the line every single day…… In a police car or a military uniform, society only works with their service.

  3. too bad none of you actually watched the show. Chris went on at length about the nobility and valor of these heroes. He also said that he meant no disrespect, and that he cannot even imagine their sacrifice. His point was that he is uncomfortable with how certain terms can take on a rhetorical life of their own in this partisan political atmosphere. He ended his question by saying, “But maybe I’m wrong on that.” It wasn’t a statement of irreverence, it was introducing a complicated and uncomfortable conversation that requires mature minds to address.

  4. i was in the army, so what. it’s a job and it’s a choice, a conscious career decision. now we appreciate our veterans and they deserve to be assisted in getting back into civilian life (GI Bill, veteran jobs programs); and honored when they are heroic or injured, and remembered when they pay that ultimate sacrifice. but no one is forced into military life. so maybe cops are automatically heroes for going to work, but what about the meter-maid or mall security? maybe firefighters are heroes too, but how about 9-1-1 operators and desk jockeys. maybe doctors are heroes; but what about dentists, chiropractors and nurses. maybe baristas are heroes, maybe strippers are heroes. who gets to decide? that’s my personal opinion. that is not at all what chris hayes was asking on his show.

  5. jellee….of course you know that they are going to misrepresent Hayes’ words. That is what the conservtives are all about.

    Being my age, I have plenty of friends that served during the Vietnam War. None of them think of themselves as heroes and most are just glad to have survived as several didn’t. My experience is that military people that play the hero card as usually those who were the furthest away from action. A former roommate was a front line medic and didn’t talk about Nam at all, until he had too much to drink.

    While the conservatives wave the flag as smoke and mirrors for their false patriotism, I recall their disgusting attack on Max Cleland, who donated two legs and an arm to action in Vietnam.

  6. sumyungboi says:

    jellee: “too bad none of you actually watched the show.”

    So you’re the one.

  7. Theefrinker says:

    Yeah, deciding to serve doesn’t make you a hero. This word has been misused to the point of losing its meaning; just like the word “tragedy”. Deciding to serve certainly makes you respectable! And if you should save someone in the process, then yes, you’re now also a hero–to someone.

  8. sumy — yes i dvr the show. they get 6-8 people with different perspectives on a given subject, and they can get very extensively in depth on topics since the show is two hours. Like one show about iranian/israeli relations; retired israeli general gazit, the israeli project founder mizrahi, newsweek writer rula jezreal an iranian, ben-ami, and nonviolent palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti … two zionists, two palestinians, two conservatives, & two progressives (aired march 11, google). The show is like being a fly on the wall of knowledge.

  9. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Deciding to serve in a time of war?

    Kids are not signing up for the college money. There is no draft (nor should there be). These kids serve so you can sit on a computer and whine about a definition.


  10. Maybe they sign up because there are no civilian jobs, and they cannot afford to learn a trade.

  11. Jellee – it’s obvious they are ignorant to the facts of the issue, so they’ll now mock it.

    Note that none of our “patriots” want to touch the Max Cleland issue.

  12. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Cannot afford to learn a trade? GI bill.

    Larry, no one cares for you or hatred of all things patriotic or American. I for one am proud to wave the Flag. Are you?

  13. concernedtacoma7 says:

    you or your hatred…

  14. SwordofPerseus says:

    xring-Maybe they sign up because there are no civilian jobs, and they cannot afford to learn a trade.

    Whooosh…Sound of thought flying high over conc’s head…

    concernedtacoma7-Cannot afford to learn a trade? GI bill.

    Wow…clueless in the ‘407 much conc?

  15. For someone that doesn’t care you sure spend a lot of time addressing me…..but I digress.

    Waving the flag is….waving the flag. When a flag is more important than the people who live under it, you have symbolism, jingoism, nationalist behavior that mirrors….

  16. yabetchya says:

    I do think the media chooses who might be a hero…or not.
    I do believe ANYONE who has to go fight for my life in the USA, is a HERO. From the wars of past, the ones we are engaged in now, to the ones we will fight in the future. God Bless the Brave.

  17. Those of us who have served know what heros are.

  18. All Citizens have a duty to fight for their country whenever the need arises.

    Many will fight well, and an exceptional few will (or should) be hailed as hero’s.

    Larry – you are a wise person. Those who fought usually don’t talk; those who just served brag.

  19. blakeshouse says:

    should have been totally obvious who actually watches the clap trap spewing from the mouths of the idiots at MSNBC..As long as there are idiots who take in the crap spewed by this and the other Lame Stream Media. They can cal it by any name they so choose but a turd is till a turd whether it is served on a silver platter or right off the ground.

  20. xring – I appreciate the compliment, but it’s not my wisdom as much as it is just paying attention. I also know that there is service to country without being in the military.

    These nationalists are so easily detected.

  21. scooter6139 says:

    Is every person who has EVER served in the military a hero? Do support troops count? Are those who committed atrocious acts still considered heroes just because they served, since that seems to be the conservative mantra going on here. There are heroes in the military but just by being there doesn’t automatically grant one that status.

    concerned – Please take off the flag you have draped around yourself because it doesn’t make you any more American than a war protester. It just makes you look foolish.

    Blake – You should probably stay away from discussion that are obviously over your head. Spouting nonsense such as “lame stream media” is a sure sign of a feeble mind.

  22. I’m inclined to see signing up as an act of heroism, if for no other reason than the fact that our society has devolved to a place where the military in general is held in contempt, especially in enlightened communites like Pugetopolis where, ironically, the economy depends on the military.

    And please save your breath, all of you who will leap to tell me that the military is respected by the general public. Perhaps in the heartland, but not around here and, if you’re honest, you know that. We actually had an acquaintance (with a couple of advanced degrees) who was jobless for over a year and would not put in an application at JBLM though there were openings in his field. Why? Because he “just couldn’t bring” himself to be associated in any way with the warmongering military machine. Sure hope he knows whom to thank for protecting his right to be an elitist snob.

  23. Making a choice in employment in the land of the free makes you an “elitist snob”?

    I’m certainly glad we are all Christians and that we don’t judge others.

    “Feeble minded”….now who was using that line a couple days ago?

  24. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Sozo, well said. They will never admit it openly, but they despise the military. They think those that serve today are ignorant “nationalists”.

  25. Yeah…we hate the military so much we don’t want homeless vets…regardless of how the nationalist nazis try to categorize the vets.

  26. BlaineCGarver says:

    Oh, my….Disagreeing is not “hate” and “being there” is not heroic. Yes, I served my 20 and retired. When you serve you knowingly write Uncle Sam a blank check, and it might get cashed for the full amount. I never came within a country mile-and-a-half of being a “hero”. Being willing to put yourself in harms way is part of the job. Maybe brave is the word we look for?

  27. BlaineCGarver says:

    LarryH, you must be a sad, miserable soul to be so mad all the time. Grow up.

  28. serving in the army is easy.

    becoming a soldier is hard.

  29. Blaine – only those who have no argument to present use the “anger” card.

  30. CT7 – yes, those two terms describe you to a T.

  31. How here is a true hero.


  32. I served in Vietnam during heavy fighting. I totally agree with Hayes that a hero is something special and not all people who serve their country are heroes, even if they discharge honorably. I dio not consider myself a hero just because I did my job and did it well.

    If those who say all who serve in the military are heroes, then I would counter that all who live an honorable life, including all who give to charity, who work in hospitals, who work for the government, all who raise children and sacrifice for them as well as many others are heroes also.

    Either “hero” has a specific meaning of something out of the ordinary (b, below), or it means anyone who lives a decent life (d, below), since it takes courage to live decently, especially now with all the temptations set before us.

    a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
    b: an illustrious warrior
    c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
    d: one who shows great courage

  33. CT had a testoterone overload.

    Kinda reminded me of the scene from “Born on the 4th of July” with a bunch of teenage boys talking.

    Or possibly the scene when the recruiter visited the high school.

    What a way to cheapen the word “hero”.

  34. tuddo – we wouldn’t have known that you served in Vietnam. You don’t pat yourself on the back enough.

  35. Larry – when tuddo talks we should listen.

  36. xring, I do not fool myself that anyone is listening. Most people are on the boards to try to find fault with others. I use it as a little sounding board for myself to put into words what I actually feel, so I can sound somewhat educated over beers at the local tavern.

    LarryH, Nothing I did in Nam deserves a pat on the back, except maybe the great steaks I cooked for fellow warriors returning from firefights when the General would send my Huey in loaded down with top-quality Kansas City beef.

    My Commanding Officer knew my family and had enjoyed my Texas-style steaks at our house, so he’d make me fire up the grill and wouldn’t let anyone else cook them.

    Can a person get a medal saying they are a hero because they made the best steaks in Nam?

  37. beerBoy says:

    Why do we have to diminish the standards for being a hero in order to be supportive of those who serve?

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