What is a Hero? Why are they important to our culture and history?
1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person distinguished by exceptional feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.
3. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine.
So, we know that a hero is someone who stands out because of their actions. We can look to Greek Mythology for characters like Hercules, Jason of the Argonauts, Perseus, and Odysseus. Hercules may well be the most famous from this list considering he has a Disney Animated Film, 2 recent Movies and a TV Show that I know about (1). This list of individuals is where Western Culture heroism begins. The legends inspired courage and valor in battle and daily life. Since then, we have added hundreds of heroes to the list, here are a few; Joan of Arc, Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Admiral Lord Nelson, Harriet Tubman, Audie Murphy, John Glenn, Davy Crockett, William Wallace, Frederick Douglass, Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton, John Pershing, Sam Houston, Pope John Paul, Lech Walesa, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, Chesty Puller, Eugene Stoner, Chris Kyle, and Sully Sullenberger.
We also have other heroes, legendary characters that are based on real and fictional persons. John Henry, Molly Pitcher, Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Superman, and Batman. For me some of these characters carry a personal connection and lessons learned. For each of the above mentioned heroes there are many supporters and detractors, yes even for the fictional ones. For these and the hundreds of other heroes around the world there are millions or devoted fans and devotes.
Why are heroes important?
Heroes are important for a number of reasons and you probably have some of your own. First, heroes are used to teach cultural values and impart lessons learned through collective societal experience. When we look at the Greek Heroes, it is quickly evident that they were used to teach; bravery in the face of tremendous odds, determination and perseverance to complete difficult tasks, and to adhere to culturally accepted norms. When we look to more recent heroes we see that they are fighting against tyranny, racism, disbelief in scientific progress, over coming great odds, and surviving war or hostile environments. As get closer to and even in today, we find men and women who stand apart because of their faith in the human spirit and in over coming dehumanizing life events. We find a man, Pat Tillman, who chose to leave a very wealthy lifestyle for the life of an Army Ranger, low pay and dangerous living conditions; because he felt is was his responsibility to protect his nation. We find a man, Chris Kyle, who is one of the most talented snipers in SEAL history with a long list of awards and medals because of his service in the theater of war. A man who lost his life trying to help a fellow soldier battle the demons of PTSD. These men specifically teach the values of honor, bravery, courage, sacrifice, determination, love of country, and compassion for others.
What does your society value, your group of friends, your church and family?
Growing up in an christian and Army household; love of God, family, and love of country are the 3 top things my parents taught. They actively taught faith in God and family. Love of country was in everything we did! While on base, we stopped for retreat at 5:30, to include getting out of our car, or stopping while walking; we put our hands on our hearts or saluted. We showed respect for the flag and country. I remember once while headed to the Rec Center, on Garlstedt (Osterholz, GE), hearing the cannon announcing retreat and acting up. I didn’t think much of it because when retreat sounded I stood and placed my hand over my heart. What I didn’t know is that my father saw me because he was running an errand for my mother. When I got home, I got laid into. Honestly, I deserved it, I knew better. We were told how Grandpa Scheib enlisted to serve in WWII and then later served two tours in Vietnam. We learned to have a good community because our lives depended on our neighbors and parents doing their jobs. I learned respect for my elders. I learned to honor those who gave their time and lives to the military; because most of them do it for the love of their country. I learned to care for others because my parents always had single GI’s in our home for the holidays … something I have come to miss. I remember breaking a couch wrestling one holiday. Thanksgiving and Christmas were fantastic because we had plenty of food, family, and fun!
Today, I find, that many of my friends have served sometime in the military, some as many as 22 years and others a standard 4 year tour of duty. Those who aren’t prior service, have great respect for our soldiers and sailors. Our respect for those who have written a blank check “Payable to the United States of America” should know no bounds. Whether we support our government’s choice for military action should not be reflected in how we treat those who would give their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. I am not saying you have to join the Army or Marines. I am saying you should be respectful of the service we the people are being provided.