Do all soldiers deserve to be called heroes? | The Tylt
Do all soldiers deserve to be called heroes?
Many Americans choose to call those who volunteer for the armed forces heroes out of respect for their sacrifice—no matter how large or small. At the end of the day, those men and women chose to serve their nation in harsh and grueling conditions. It's not about what specific act they did or how many lives they saved.
The point is these men and women believed in their nation enough to put their lives on the line to serve it. That's a heroic act and should be recognized.
Dorian de Wind, a retired U.S. Air Force major, wrote in the Los Angeles Times why all soldiers deserve to be called heroes.
When I refer to U.S. service members as heroes, I do that out of general, across-the-board respect and admiration for them, and out of deep gratitude for the sacrifices they make for our country.
Let me conclude with a hypothetical question. Given the choice of collectively calling our troops heroes, because of those few "real heroes," and collectively calling our troops murderers and criminals because of those few bad apples, which one would you go for?
Believe me, some have actually opted for the latter choice. So forgive me if I continue to opt for the first choice at the risk of erring — technically, logically and semantically — on the side of our troops.
Others say labeling every soldier and veteran a hero waters down the significance of being a hero. There are plenty of heroes in the armed forces, but simply putting on a uniform does not make someone a hero. Giving everyone a blanket label of a hero covers up the reality of war. Not everyone in a war is a hero, and not every war is just. Retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel William J. Astore writes:
When we create a legion of heroes in our minds, we blind ourselves to evidence of destructive, sometimes atrocious, behavior. Heroes, after all, don't commit atrocities. They don't, for instance, dig bullets out of pregnant women's bodies in an attempt to cover up deadly mistakes, as the Times of London recently reported may have happened in Gardez, Afghanistan. Such atrocities, so common to war's brutal chaos, produce cognitive dissonance in the minds of many Americans, who simply can't imagine their "heroes" killing innocents and then covering up the evidence. How much easier it is to see the acts of violence of our troops as necessary, admirable, even noble.
Some veterans say the incessant celebration of veterans does nothing to actually help their day to day lives. Retired Marine Corps pilot Carl Forsling says instead of calling veterans heroes, people should roll up their sleeves and figure out how they can serve, too.
As far as what you can give to veterans, don’t bother with the handouts. Just make sure veterans get what they were promised when they joined. Benefits don’t need to be expanded. All they have to do is honor the promises made when veterans raised their right hands. No one joined the military to get rich, but they did join anticipating that retirement, healthcare, and benefits would not be changed after they gave their blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Don’t let Congress make veterans sacrifice twice.
Don’t thank a veteran. Stand by a veteran. That’s a lot harder, but a lot more worthwhile.