Looking Up to Our Heroes

Cindy Simpson
Talking about Memorial Day, MSNBC's Chris Hayes admitted he was "uncomfortable" calling our fallen soldiers "heroes":

Thinking today and observing Memorial Day...I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word "hero"?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic.

As NewsBusters columnist Mark Finkelstein noted, "In fairness, Hayes and the other panel members distinguished between their respect for the valor of the individual military members who had given their lives with the worthiness of the various causes in which they fought.  Even so, what does it say about the liberal chattering class, which Hayes epitomizes, that it chokes on calling America's fallen what they rightly and surely are: heroes?"

Finkelstein asks a great question.  Why would liberal commentators say such things, and with the appearance of being so intellectual, thoughtful and serious?

My previous American Thinker article discussed the thesis of Diana West's brilliant book, The Death of the Grown-Up:  How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization.  West explained how and why we have become a nation overrun by adolescent minds disguised as mature adults. 

As West explored that theme, she noted that today's mainstream "heroes" are more often "victims." She wrote: "From a microphone on high, [the "non-adult, non-warrior, head mainstream man"] can hand sympathy down to the victim:  With the hero, he would have to look up... [T]he adolescent culture celebrates the victim because the hero is too big for it." (emphasis mine)

West wrote that as a columnist, she regularly reads military obituaries in the British press, where the write-ups "mark the passing of a veteran of World War II in the kind of scope never found in an American newspaper."  She noted that although their heroic deeds occurred more than half a century ago, "in the interim, the sensibility that prizes such manly virtues has died a death for which there has been no obituary...That is not to say that such virtues no longer exist...they are no longer the object of emulation, admiration, or even consideration among elites and their acolytes who dominate the cultural mainstream."

West penned those words over five years ago.  A look back at the "victims" that have since captivated television shows and audiences for days on end, while America's military heroes are rarely ever mentioned (and when they are, commentators seem to have a hard time using the description of "hero") -- reinforces the truth West observed. 

Let's not wait for our heroes to die before we recognize them.  The "New Media" needs to take up the slack in daily reporting on the heroes in our armed forces - so young, many of them, yet also so grown-up.  We must also make sure that our heroes know how much the rest of the grown-ups in America appreciate and look up to them.


Talking about Memorial Day, MSNBC's Chris Hayes admitted he was "uncomfortable" calling our fallen soldiers "heroes":

Thinking today and observing Memorial Day...I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word "hero"?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic.

As NewsBusters columnist Mark Finkelstein noted, "In fairness, Hayes and the other panel members distinguished between their respect for the valor of the individual military members who had given their lives with the worthiness of the various causes in which they fought.  Even so, what does it say about the liberal chattering class, which Hayes epitomizes, that it chokes on calling America's fallen what they rightly and surely are: heroes?"

Finkelstein asks a great question.  Why would liberal commentators say such things, and with the appearance of being so intellectual, thoughtful and serious?

My previous American Thinker article discussed the thesis of Diana West's brilliant book, The Death of the Grown-Up:  How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization.  West explained how and why we have become a nation overrun by adolescent minds disguised as mature adults. 

As West explored that theme, she noted that today's mainstream "heroes" are more often "victims." She wrote: "From a microphone on high, [the "non-adult, non-warrior, head mainstream man"] can hand sympathy down to the victim:  With the hero, he would have to look up... [T]he adolescent culture celebrates the victim because the hero is too big for it." (emphasis mine)

West wrote that as a columnist, she regularly reads military obituaries in the British press, where the write-ups "mark the passing of a veteran of World War II in the kind of scope never found in an American newspaper."  She noted that although their heroic deeds occurred more than half a century ago, "in the interim, the sensibility that prizes such manly virtues has died a death for which there has been no obituary...That is not to say that such virtues no longer exist...they are no longer the object of emulation, admiration, or even consideration among elites and their acolytes who dominate the cultural mainstream."

West penned those words over five years ago.  A look back at the "victims" that have since captivated television shows and audiences for days on end, while America's military heroes are rarely ever mentioned (and when they are, commentators seem to have a hard time using the description of "hero") -- reinforces the truth West observed. 

Let's not wait for our heroes to die before we recognize them.  The "New Media" needs to take up the slack in daily reporting on the heroes in our armed forces - so young, many of them, yet also so grown-up.  We must also make sure that our heroes know how much the rest of the grown-ups in America appreciate and look up to them.