America can do better for heroes than George Floyd

We laid my father to rest just five days ago in the sun-soaked prairie of Canaveral National Cemetery in Florida. 

He was 89 years old, a proud veteran with 28 and a half years' decorated, military service.  He fought in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968–69, served in Strategic Air Command during the peak of the Cold War, continued in government service after retiring from the military, and assisted with recovery efforts of the Space Shuttle Challenger, to name just a few of his accomplishments.  Along the way, he was married 68 years to his beloved wife, my mom; raised a family of five successful kids; 16 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild soon to be born.  He was a proud patriot and faithful servant of God.  He never committed a crime.

When he passed, there were no presidential proclamations, no marches, no signs or banners, no trumpets — just the sad rejoinder of a single bugle playing Taps by a member of the Honor Guard from our local airbase.  The only ones who noted his death and subsequent burial at Canaveral National Cemetery in Florida were my family and our closest friends.

Yet today we commemorate the death of George Floyd one year ago as some kind of national remembrance, with mourning from minority communities and disingenuous eulogies from the national media.  To be sure, George Floyd did not deserve to die the way he did, and the police who facilitated his death should be held accountable according to the law.  Police reform, to some extent, may even be necessary to ensure that criminals who are apprehended don't face a similar demise, and I welcome those reforms.  Yet the outpouring of misguided emotion and overplayed media emphasis on the commemoration of George Floyd's death is completely misaligned with any virtuous moral values.

Let's state the obvious: George Floyd should not be a national hero.  Despite the love of his family for him and the fawning praise of his life by third parties, George Floyd was a drug-abuser, drug-dealer, and violent offender with a long criminal history, including a felony conviction in 2009 for assault and armed robbery of a pregnant woman for which he spent five years in prison.  He also had at least seven other convictions ranging from possession and theft of a controlled substance, firearms robbery, and cocaine possession to trespassing on private property.  By any definition, he is not a role model and should not be praised by our president or anyone commenting on his treatment by the police.

On the day of his death, George Floyd was attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local grocery store, prompting a police response.  Later toxicology reports confirmed he had numerous controlled substances in his system.  Honorable people don't attempt to steal from grocery stores by passing counterfeit money, yet those with a modicum of virtue who point out that George Floyd was acting in an unvirtuous way are labeled as racists.  Nonetheless, George Floyd's actions on the day of his death indicate that he was not positively changing his life following his release from prison in 2014, but was continuing in his criminal ways.  That's just a fact.

On the day of my father's death from a heart attack, he was making arrangements to attend my brother's ordination in San Antonio, Texas, as a deacon in the Catholic Church.  My dad had attended every major life event of every one of his children and grandchildren's lives in his 89 years.  While he won't make it to the ordination, and there are no murals of my dad painted on walls of tall buildings, or television segments dedicated to his memory, we will be celebrating the impact he made on our lives — his lifetime of achievement, service, and love, which made him worthy of being called a "hero."

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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