As I read David Halberstam’s ideas in his essay, “Who We Are” (2004), I started thinking about our nation’s leaders and heroes. September 11th came to my mind and the many firefighters and rescue workers who heroically risked their lives to save complete strangers. Then, I remembered that the media dubbed Jessica Lynch a hero when she came back to the United States. Not only Jessica, but also many other American soldiers fighting abroad are called heroes. I started wondering if their bravery actually makes them true heroes or not. I asked myself, what is a hero? Do people need heroes? Where does the belief that we need heroes come from? This belief has caused us to over apply our use of the word to almost everyone: leaders, firefighters, and even sports figures. Sometimes, those who we title heroes are merely good people in the right place at the right time or are simply doing their jobs. Essentially, we shouldn’t need “heroes.” Instead, we should seek role models and acknowledge the everyday worker. However, the ultimate search for a hero should be within us. We all have the capacity to embrace our inner strength in order to lead our lives with courage and nobility.
I. Archaic Definitions
In a US News & World Report special online issue about heroes, Clark (2001) gives several definitions of a hero: [heroes] go above and beyond the call of duty, they champion a good cause, and (my favorite) they serve as a calling to our higher selves. In an online “Answers” dictionary, hero is defined as “a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life” (2005). There is a song sung by Bonnie Tyler called “Holding Out for a Hero” in which a line is: “I n...
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..., from http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/changed.html.
Jordan, R. (1989). The quiet hero. Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
Ruotolo, L. (1973). Six existential heroes: the politics of faith. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Singh, Manjari-Lu, & Yu, Mei. (2003). Exploring the function of heroes and heroines in children's literature from around the world. Retrieved Dec. 04, 2005, from http://www.ericdigests.org/2004-1/heroes.htm.
Steinman, J. (2005). Bonnie tyler. Retrieved Dec. 11, 2005, from http://www.lyricscafe.com/t/tyler_bonnie/holding_out_for_a_hero.html.
Think Exist Quotations, (2005). Quotes. Retrieved Dec. 06, 2005, from http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/martyrs/.
Warner, J. (2004). Do we need another sports hero?. Retrieved Dec. 04, 2005, from http://www.webmd.com/content/article/93/102060.htm.
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