Where have all the heroes gone?

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I stopped watching CNN several months ago. Actually I stopped watching “all” news. I know! I know! This isn’t a good idea. But we all need a break sometimes from all the negativity thrown our way so this is my time for a much needed break.

I haven’t given up my mil blogs. Nothing could persuade me to do that. They have become a life line of news and culture on the information highway! They have also given me a sense of being part of something bigger than myself. Something we all need.

As an alternative to me steady diet of MSM news networks, I have been watching the old movies. Today I am watching, “The Silver Whip.” Dale Robertson and Rory Calhoun are the main stars. A very young Robert Wagner is also one of the characters.

As I watched this old western I started reflecting on all the old actors and actresses of the “good old days.” Some of my big time favorites are gone now but they live on in my memory. I loved John Wayne. He was a great actor. I loved, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” I cried at the end when he asked one of his troops to read the time on his “new gold watch.” You see he was retiring from the Army.

John Wayne played in many good westerns over his career. But he also starred in other roles. Many were military movies. He was good in those too. I can’t even remember the names of all his old movies. There were too many too remember.

Then there were the other great stars like James Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Randolph Scott, Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Walter Brennan, Robert Mitchum, and Victor Mature. Of course this list is but a tiny grain of sand compared to a list of all those great male stars.

Then there were the great women, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Jane Froman, Maureen O’Hare, Maureen O’Sullivan, Betty Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Crawford, Joanne Woodward, to name a few. Of course this list too is only a small one compared to a complete one.

I often reflect on the impact of these great stars and wonder at their affect. Many of their roles were in movies that reflected the life of the times. The struggles, the hopes and dreams. Others were about the lives of great men and women in our history. Some of those people reflected the best of society, others were about those of not such high standards. So what did we, the public get from all these stars and their roles on stage and screen? Why did they impact our lives, or rather how?

I think there are many answers to that question. But the biggest one, to me, beside those of hope, fame, dreams or just entertainment, is that they gave us heroes. I think there is a desire to have or be a hero in all of us to some extent or other. Heroes give us hope. They make us feel protected. They tell us there is good in mankind. They give us someone or something to believe in or look up to. They help give us ideals or standards upon which to base our lives. I think that is what I most miss about the passing of these great men and women. When they passed, it felt like they took our heroes with them.

Along with them they took something else. These great stars had no special effects and other props like we do now that can detract from the abilities of their skills. Not that we don’t have good actors and actresses now. We do. But the special effects, to me, though awesome at times, take away from the stars. They don’t leave me with the same sense of seeing a real hero. I guess you could say they remove some of the human element. I can’t say why. That’s just how I feel. I have no illusions about these stars. They were just every day people like me or anyone else.

I think there is another aspect. There is also the element of the “times” they lived in. In a matter of fifty years or so our parents and grand parents experienced the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. They also watched our nation and the world go from kerosene lanterns to fluorescent bulbs, the telegraph to the telephone, the horse and buggy to the automobile, photographs to full length movies with sound. Probably one of the most profound inventions was the “atomic bomb.”

The bomb brought us the cold war. It led to nuclear power for electricity, nuclear powered submarines, and more sophisticated bombs. They witnessed the invention of Weapons of Mass destruction. They witnessed the birth of flying evolve from the bi-planes into the stealth planes and ships that landed on the moon. I am not sure that I could have managed all those changes in such a short period of time without heroes. You see heroes also make one feel not so helpless. They provide both real and false senses of security.

But as I reflect further on the meaning of hero, there is another aspect that I have not really discussed. But before I do that, I need to tell you what a hero is to me. To me a hero is someone who accomplishes great things. They overcome unimaginable obstacles. They often will be required to step outside their own sphere of comfort and safety. They frequently put the welfare of others ahead of their own. They make great sacrifices. They inspire us to want to be more or better than we are. They give us hope, make us feel safe. They rarely seek recognition for their efforts. They see and just do what needs to be done. Or they look at something and think about possibilities. So where have all our heroes gone?

Every day, a police officer, fireman or rescue worker risks his or her safety, sometimes even their life in the service of others. Though some of these people are paid for that service, many are not. Still, they are out there every day keeping us safe, providing emergency medical care and transport, keeping the peace, arresting criminals, putting out fires, rescuing people from burning vehicles, buildings and forest fires and other catastrophes. They put in countless hours of their own time, again often without pay to train for these services they provide. They do these jobs at great personal sacrifice to themselves and their families. Often they make the ultimate sacrifice, their life, in performance of their duties! If ever there was doubt in this we only have the images of 9/11 burned into our minds forever. Heroes!

Of course we also saw everyday people like you and me rise to the occasion and become momentary heroes. People who probably never gave a thought that one day they might step outside their own comfort zone and perform an act of heroism. Again we saw this on 9/11 in New York City and aboard an air craft thousands of feet in the air. Their acts forever recorded in the annals of history. People who by chance or fate were in the right place, at the right time. Heroes!

But we have another group of unsung heroes who give of their selves freely and make great sacrifices every day of their lives. Some make these sacrifices for a few years then move on to other occupations. Most make a lifelong career of doing for others. They come to our aide in times of natural disasters like hurricanes, forest fires, plagues, and floods that are too much for our local response personnel. They provide police type protection in times of great civil disorder like the riots during the civil rights movement. They rescue people at sea. During natural disasters they distribute food and medical supplies and medical care, transport injured and others to safety. These are just jobs they perform outside their every day duties.

They leave the comfort and safety of their homes, leave behind families who face great hardships every day so they can protect our nation and when called upon to act as peace keepers around the world. They protect us on land, sea, and in the air. They are our armed forces. Their members serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Coast Guard. Besides the many thousands who serve on active duty, there are those thousands of men and women who also have other careers yet serve in the reserve units of the various services. They give up time throughout the year away from their jobs and families to train so that they will be ready if our nation needs to activate them to support our active armed forces.

Our active armed forces train daily to be prepared should they ever be called upon to protect our country. They roam our seas and the international waters. They fly the skies patrolling, ever vigilant, of threats to our national security and world peace. In times of war they defend our country from our enemies where ever and whenever needed. If necessary they freely give up their lives in the performance of their duties.

Often many of these men and women come home with terrible injuries. Many are permanently disabled. Often they come home and find their family they left behind is no longer able to function as it had before they left. Divorce and suicide and mental illnesses often result from their sacrifices. Still, they continue to do their duty. Men and women of great character and a willingness to endure great personal hardship who have volunteered for their role in the safety of our nation. All they ask in return is not to be forgotten when or if they die or to be able to receive proper medical care when they need it. They ask us to look after their spouse and their children while they are away protecting our nation or if they are killed. They hope we will simply say thank you for a job well done. So little to ask for so much sacrifice.

So now when I reflect on heroes, I have no trouble finding one. I simply look at a soldier and know that I am looking at a real hero.


~ by devildog6771 on January 17, 2006.

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