Sunday, August 21, 2011

William Deresiewicz on heroes

William Deresiewicz on the word heroes and what he calls “the cult of the uniform”:

Perhaps no word in public life of late has been more thoroughly debased by overuse. Soldiers are “heroes”; firefighters are “heroes”; police officers are “heroes” — all of them, not the special few who undoubtedly deserve the term. . . .

The irony is that our soldiers are the last people who are likely to call themselves heroes and are apparently very uncomfortable with this kind of talk.

An Empty Regard (New York Times)

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

This is just brilliant, and so eloquently says what I have been wanting to say for year. Thanks for passing this along!

Elaine said...

This has actually bothered me for a long time. Living an 'ordinary life' is somehow not enough?

My brother, apparently immortal at 19 years of age, ran in front of machine-gun fire to assist wounded villagers in Viet Nam, gallantry that earned him a Silver Star. He stated that he 'knew the firing would stop,' an assertion that still leaves me weak at the knees in retrospect. He has observed that his heroes all died.