Saturday, December 02, 2006

America Needs Heroes!

(This Post first ran in September of 2006)


America Needs Heros!

This country, America, needs some heroes. Badly.

Have you noticed that we have none? Unlike in my youth heroes abounded. There were, first and foremost, the military heroes, then the sports heroes, even the guy down the block who saved the neighbor’s cat by climbing up the tree to retrieve the cat, he, too, was a hero. But it is not so, anymore.

Humans need heroes. Heroes remind us that there is a better side to us. Heroes remind us that we DO have it in us to be better than we are… to accomplish what was thought to be the impossible, and that we do have it in us to defend those things most precious to us, like our families, and out homes, and even our country. But today there are no heroes.

Military heroes went out of style during the Vietnam War. Although many, many, Vietnam veterans came home as heroes, they were not accorded that status by their fellow Americans. Many were reviled and even spat upon. Men who had answered their country’s call and gone to war, and had every right to be accorded the status of "hero" were, instead, shunned by American society.

When I was a boy, there actually were sports heroes. Oh yes. Joe De Maggio, Ted Williams, and the list goes on and on. Not any longer. Professional athletes tell us they have no desire to be a ROLE MODEL, A HERO, if you will, and they aren’t. Many we would silently think of as heroes turn out to be abusing drugs, which brings into questions their athletic triumphs. So, we no longer have sports heroes.

Well, you may ask, what about the neighborhood guy who climbs trees and rescues felines for the neighbors children? What about him, huh? Well, that cat is stranded now, for good and all, except... in the rare case where the local fire department will agree to come rescue the critter. Why? Well the neighborhood guy is concerned that if he should climb that tree and break a limb, some "enviro nut" group will sue him. If he should accidentally harm the kitty, while in the attempt to rescue her, then the animal welfare groups might sue him, and if the kitty scratches the kids he returns it to, he might well be sued for allowing those children to play with a dangerous animal!

See the direction America has taken and why, there are no heroes today? It is, indeed, too risky.

And then... there is the "Moral Relativity" problem. Here in America, the Moral Relativity adherents rule the day. Now known as Political Correctness, we are indoctrinated, from day one, that all men are created equal. Well, one can easily put the lie to that if one wanders into the shower room of any military barracks in the world, or walk down a crowded beach in July. All men are NOT created equal. All men are guaranteed an equal shot at life, and it’s abundance, here in America, by the constitution, but... that is as far as it goes., or at least, that is as far as it should go.

Now, if you believe that all men are equal then you cannot have heroes. Because the very nature of heroism means that one person has exceeded the level playing field, of equality, and has become better than his fellow man in some way that makes a difference.

We used to understand that, in this country, and we celebrated our heroes. Look back at Audey Murphy, the most decorated soldier of the Second World War. A tiny little fellow, unimposing, but the man had the heart of a lion. He was a true hero.

And there was "The Duke". Yep, John Wayne. So far as I know, Duke never served his country in uniform. Except that, actually, he did. He portrayed such heroes, so often, and so convincingly, on the American movie screen, that he became one. He played role after role of heroes in different uniforms of our military service. Those western characters he portrayed paid homage to the early days of America on the Frontier. He became a hero. The thing with Wayne was that “what you saw was what you got”. Off screen, he was the same man he played on screen. And that came through, clear as a bell, in the characters he portrayed.

Say what you will about the Duke, but he taught, at least, one generation of American men what it meant to be a man and even more importantly what it meant to be an American man.

Heroes provide us with role models. “We don’t need role models”, you may argue. Oh, but we do, I would argue back. Role models teach our children important lessons about who they are and what they are capable of.

When I first reported for military training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, back on July 5th, 1959, I had no idea what I was capable of. None. I thought I did. But, boy, how wrong I was.

I weighed approximately 126 pounds. And that was soaking wet! And then they took us up to a place known then as “Tank Hill”. That’s where you went when you reported to Ft. Jackson to be whipped into shape as American soldiers. Eight weeks later, having survived pure hell, I left that Army post a brand new American soldier, believing I could lick the world, if necessary, single handed.

How did it happen? One important factor of that training was that there were genuine heroes training us. The cadre of instructors were men who were veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War. Men who had seen the worst the enemy could throw at them and they rose above it and won!

We had a First Sergeant, with an Irish name, and all the accoutrements including the blue eyes and red hair. Never saw him that he didn’t have a bayonet scabbard hanging from his web belt. Never. He was a sergeant in the manner of old First Sergeants. That guy was something to behold! When he walked into a room, or onto a training field, all the noise became muted and all eyes were on him. He commanded respect. For those of us un-initiated, at the time, there was one huge question we all wanted ask and that was… “why?”. After a few weeks, I screwed up enough courage to ask one of the lowly buck sergeants what it was about the Top Kick that brought all that respect.

The sergeant pointed to the Top Kick’s bayonet. “You see that”, he asked? I assured him I couldn’t miss it. The sergeant went on to say there was a story behind that bayonet. He told me that even though he didn’t know all the details, he knew that the Top Kick had saved his squad, in Korea, by charging an enemy machine gun nest with nothing but that bayonet in his hand. He over ran that enemy gun emplacement and put the machine gun out of action and saved the lives of his men. For his actions the Army had award him a medal. His fellow soldiers had awarded him something far more precious… their respect.

As I listened in awe, I came to understand the awe with which his men held him... to that day. And… I had something of an epiphany. I came to realize that even heroes need heroes. The men training me were genuine war heroes, and yet they looked up to the Top Kick as their hero.

It is the nature of the human beast. We need markers to show us what we can achieve. Those who rise above the rest of us are those markers and we call them heroes.

America has become a nation in limbo. Having no markers, no heroes, to look to... we are wandering about in a sea of disillusionment, not knowing who we are. Oft times we are discouraged from accomplishments, which exceed the norm. We are told it is better to remain a non-entity that to accomplish more than one’s neighbors and rise above them, for in so doing... we make those who seek to remain equal feel ashamed, or less important that we.

To that I say… “tough"! It is that kind of thought that is killing the American spirit. It is that kind of thought that is killing America… period!

America used to be a “can do” nation. Now we are a “can you do it for me?” nation. We have not yet recognized that those who willingly “do it” for us will soon reign over us. Why, the naysayers have us believing we can actually lose the war in Iraq! They have us believing we can’t fight two wars, on two fronts, and win! We’ve already put the lie to that argument. We fought the Germans, the Italians, and the Japanese, all at the same time, an came away victorious over all of them.

Regardless of what you may think, or you may have been taught, there are persons among us who are heroes. These are persons who have risen above and simply not been recognized by a society that has chosen to hide itself in the mire of equal aspirations based upon our society’s lowest common denominator.

We desperately need a hero to lead this nation through the dark decades ahead. We are facing an enemy, which wants us dead... and will stop at nothing to wipe us out. We need a leader who is not afraid to take the tough stands, and make the hard decisions, which may lead to the deaths of countless numbers of our enemies, but save the USA.

But can a man such as this be elected? Probably not. Can a man such as this be found among us? Oh yes, but I must warn you… they are few and far between. You see, America stopped producing “real men” in the 1960’s. And those of the male persuasion, who survived the ‘60’s, are now teaching our male children what THEIR definition of a real man is and, dear reader, it is far from what nature created the male human to be.

So what are America’s options? Frankly, dear reader, I don’t see any. We, as a nation, are destined to ride this train to the end of the line. You see, when a people, voluntarily, choose to emasculate themselves, they must pay the price. America has only begun to pay that price.


Longstreet

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

We see heros every day---we just don't know them. Most heros we never know about. Like your physical therepist who was a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam, Silver star and such, your mail carrier,an exPOW in WWII, your neighbors son, heading for his 4th deployment with a Marine Expeditionary Force. They all don't get the Congressional Medal or a parade. But they are heros, one and all.

Jon said...

Longstreet,

So well said, we are a country that would rather have the government provide everything, but stay out our private lives. The Democrats want everyone to believe that you can't have too much governemnt unless they say so. The American Hero has disappeared into the memories of my generation and unless things change soon it will not even be a memory for my kids generation.

Longstreet said...

Maybe I should have said, "We don't CELEBRATE or heroes as we should!"

Longstreet said...

Well said, Anon and Jon.

I wonder if our lack of recognitioin and celebration of heroes is born of a national arrogance.

Our children's education, these days, is centered on making them feel good about themselves... self esteem. Seems to me, there is a fine line between feeling good about one's self and arrogance!

Larry Hager said...

So what are we going to do? lay down and die or are we going to be those hero's ourselves? I'm 64 years old but I"ve still got alittle of that "hero" in me. We can't just give up, I don"t care if it looks hopeless or not. After all, we are AMERICANS arn't we/ and by god that means something. Larry

Larry Hager said...

Short and sweet; We who still recall what hero's are, had better stop whining about it and start doing it. Stop waiting for someone else to do it. Think.... there must be something that I can do.

Longstreet said...

Larry: I'm a tad older than you, and I agree that being an American does mean something... at least to OUR generation. I'm not so sure about the generations behind us. And THAT worries me.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Best regards,

Longstreet

Frank said...

Maybe I should have said, "We don't CELEBRATE or heroes as we should!"
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On Dec. 25th, I will celebrate the birth of my 1 and only hero. Without him none of the other nonsense going on could even happen.