|Father Mychal Judge, NYFD Chaplain|
First casualty September 11, 2001
I have no argument with any of this, and I hesitate to even mention it for fear my words might be misunderstood. John Allemang of the Globe and Mail, on the other hand, minces no words. "Death in a war zone isn't automatically heroic, no matter what Ontario's Highway of Heroes procession route implies."
Read his article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/baseball/from-alomar-to-gretzky-to-mozart-reflections-on-true-greatness/article2107270/
If we overuse a word, it loses it's meaning. One doesn't become a hero simply by employment status, vocation or calling. One doesn't become a hero by the way that they died, but by the actions they took while they lived, sometimes that lead to their death. Just being there isn't enough. Extraordinary action in unusual circumstances on behalf of another, and not on behalf of a country blissfully engrossed otherwise with day-to-day life, but on behalf of a present and engaged other who is in immediate danger.
This is my definition. The Merriam-Webster on-line dicationary somewhat supports my definition, and to a degree, that of the common definition of a "central figure in an event, period, or movement". John Allemang says it simply, "A...hero is someone who faces down common sense to do the uncommon thing."
If everyone's a hero simply by association, then no one's a hero.
That would be a loss to society on two levels, first the loss of yet another word watered down to become a bland modern colloquialism, and secondly the loss of what it truly means to be a hero, notwithstanding the very many examples of truly heroic individual behaviour by the men and women in Manhattan on 9/11, and of the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.