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Every Soldier a Hero? Hardly. -Opinion piece from retired Lt. Colonel.

Ziggae_6

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I was really struck by this opinion piece by retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel Astore. I think this tendency to glorify military service often leads us to go into war unnecessarily because we see our country as the policing good guys. Yet war is not a place for "good guys," and it puts on a heavy burden on the people who are participants. Thus it should be used sparingly.

I posted the main points with a link to the full piece below. What is your opinion?

Still, ever since the events of 9/11, there's been an almost religious veneration of U.S. service members as "Our American Heroes" (as a well-intentioned sign puts it at my local post office). But a snappy uniform — or even dented body armor — is not a magical shortcut to hero status.
A hero is someone who behaves selflessly, usually at considerable personal risk and sacrifice, to comfort or empower others and to make the world a better place. Heroes, of course, come in all sizes, shapes, ages and colors, most of them looking nothing like John Wayne or John Rambo or GI Joe (or Jane).


Whether in civilian life or in the military, heroes are rare — indeed, all too rare. Heck, that's the reason we celebrate them. They're the very best of us, which means they can't be all of us.
But does elevating our troops to hero status really cause any harm? What's wrong with praising our troops to the rafters and adding them to our pantheon of heroes?
A lot.


By making our military a league of heroes, we ensure that the brutalizing aspects and effects of war will be played down. In celebrating isolated heroic feats, we often forget that war is guaranteed to degrade humanity as well.
"War," as writer and cultural historian Louis Menand noted, "is specially terrible not because it destroys human beings, who can be destroyed in plenty of other ways, but because it turns human beings into destroyers."
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.
Even worse, seeing the military as universally heroic can serve to prolong wars.

In rejecting blanket "hero" labels today, we would not be insulting our troops. Quite the opposite: We'd be making common cause with them. Most of them already know the difference between real heroism and everyday military service. Even the young "Helden" of Wilhelmine Germany knew that service alone didn't make them heroic. With the typical sardonic humor of front-line soldiers, they preferred the less comforting but more descriptive label (given their grim situation in the trenches) of "front pigs."

Whatever nationality they may be, troops at the front know the score. Even as our media and our culture seek to elevate them into the pantheon of demigods, the men and women at the front are focused on doing their jobs and returning home with their bodies, their minds and their buddies intact.

So, next time you talk to our soldiers, Marines, sailors or airmen, do them (and your country) a small favor. Thank them for their service. Let them know you appreciate them. Just don't call them heroes.

Every soldier a hero? Hardly - latimes.com
 

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It sounds like he's knit-picking about different labels. But I think everyone knows that the military isn't universally heroic, or even "good" at all times. Perhaps they don't understand how not universally heroic the military is but its all the same to me
 

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I've never called anyone in the service a hero. I wonder who's doing this besides the media? I think they are brave young men and women who have enlisted in the armed services and, unfortunately in these particular times, they've been sent in harm's way. When I see people in uniform, I'll go out of my way to thank them for their service -- but I don't call them heroes. This article is thought-provoking as to our mindset about our soldiers, but I think his concern is somewhat misplaced.

One cannot help but see the difference in the way our soldiers are treated today and the way they were treated in Viet Nam. That was a national tragedy of epic proportion. In those days, all we focused on were the horrors of war. Our poor soldiers. And shame on us.

Ever hear of Warriors Watch? They're a nationwide volunteer organization of VietNam vets who welcome home soldiers coming back from Afghani and Iraq with a motorcycle procession. Part of their mission statement reads:
NEVER, EVER, WILL WE ALLOW THIS GENERATION OF HEROES TO BE TREATED WHEN THEY COME HOME AS WE WERE TREATED WHEN WE CAME HOME. . NEVER AGAIN WILL AN AMERICAN WARRIOR BE SCORNED, OR IGNORED.
I'd much rather we erred on the side of honoring our soldiers than focusing on the horrors of war. Fortunately (or UNfortunately), they stand before us and witness enough of the horrors for all.

As the Warriors Watch guys say, "They've got our backs of there.....we've got their backs over here." God bless 'em. » Mission Warriors’ Watch Riders: WE HAVE YOUR BACKS AT HOME!
 
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I don't think every soldier is a hero, especially now that my son is a soldier, and I know a lot of soldiers.
They're just ordinary kids, most of them.
But they're brave. They've volunteered to do a difficult job.
 

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Looking at this on an individual basis rather than the whole.

For combat soldiers it's not about being a hero... it's more about NOT being a coward. Many young men who want to become "heros" take unnecessary risks which puts fellow soldiers lives at risk. I saw young officers and NCO's order attacks for no good reason other than gaining glory for themselves... which is disgusting. Whenever possible, you avoid these people like the plague. But that was a different war then today and at a time when we were already pulling out and giving up.

For most soldiers it's learning about your capabilities by developing character, discipline, and strength.... both mental and physical. It can also be a transition from boy/girl to man/women depending on upbringing and age. We don't need to glorify our military... just respect them.
 
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apdst

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Not all soldiers are heroes. But, all soldiers are worthy of our respect and gratitude.
 

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Not all soldiers are heroes. But, all soldiers are worthy of our respect and gratitude.


I like that statement. Anyone who has ever served knows that the military is comprised of a small sampling of the general population. Which means we had as many numbskulls as those in the general population did.
 

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Heroism - to me - is when you go *above* and *beyond* your normal daily routine and expected and paid for duties to protect or help others.
Since a serviceman's *job* is to protect and serve it takes an extreme level of insane action to achieve a 'military-heroic' act in my book - but, yes, it does happen.

But I don't think it's psychologically damaging to call someone's actions heroic - IF you mean it. . . I think a lot of people don't think of their selves that way and just brush off those type of compliments.
 

apdst

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I like that statement. Anyone who has ever served knows that the military is comprised of a small sampling of the general population. Which means we had as many numbskulls as those in the general population did.

Wel, actually, no. The numbskull:good guy ratio in the military isn't anywhere close to being representitive to the general population.
 

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Wel, actually, no. The numbskull:good guy ratio in the military isn't anywhere close to being representitive to the general population.

Perhaps I was being a little hard but then I was in during the draft period of Vietnam. We took anyone in those days and I mean anyone. We found out during the first week of boot camp that we had a kid who was legally blind who made it that far even through their medical "screening". He was sent home though.
 

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Not all soldiers are heroes. But, all soldiers are worthy of our respect and gratitude.

I would agree. But I would also agree that we owe respect and gratitude to all human life. We are blessed by so many things that others do and we really don't recognize that either.
 

apdst

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I would agree. But I would also agree that we owe respect and gratitude to all human life. We are blessed by so many things that others do and we really don't recognize that either.

I agree, but we owe an extra measure of respect and gratitude to someone who put's his own life ahead of others.
 

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agree with general consensus of the thread. i have met a few actual heroes. i do not want to be them, but i will always respect them and honor what they've been through and done. does military service involve willing sacrifice of others, and therefore entitle those who participate to moral respect greater than they would otherwise rate? absolutely. but "heroes"?

heroes are like the higher medals (for everyone below the rank of 0-5 / E-9); they usually get made in the worst situations, and only fools want that to happen to them or their buddies. i wouldn't mind going to Afghanistan, but i'll be dammed if i'm willing to trade any of my friends for a day that gets me a bronze start with 'v'. i'm not, nor am i interested in ever being, a hero.
 
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No combat soldier in his right mind wants to be a hero. First off it take an extremely dangerous fight for a "hero' to emerge. Secondly, this usually means deaths on both sides... including some one you might know closely. It's much better to simply follow orders and do your duty. No more or less. Thats most always enough and will give you all the respect you want from those who matter.
 

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indeed, the best kind of battle is always the one where they stand up and charge you en masse across open terrain and you can mow them down with zero risk to yourself.
 

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Zero risk... don't believe there is such a thing in a firefight. Regardless of cover, when tracers are flying both ways.. I don't like it. BTW, haven't been in a fight like that but if an attack was imminent, thats the kind I'd like to receive... I guess it would be like a bonzi charge??
 

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No most soldiers are not heroes. Most are just doing their job. And this has to be said as well. Most police officers are not heroes and they are not doing a noble service at least the majority of them are not. Most police officers have a not so dangerous job and the risk associated with being a police officer is a joke. Yes, the majority of police officers do return home so when they act like oh they might die while on duty it is a serious joke. Because they rarely die, instead you have many more incidents of police officers killing and abusing innocent people and getting away with it because the criminal court system views police officers as heroes of the state. Which helps explain why they are so rarely prosecuted for wrongdoings.

I remember that not more than five months ago a Boston police officer killed a marine and when he was going to be charged for killing the marine he had already left the state and still remains in hiding. Now just for a second think of how many people that police officer has assaulted who were innocent like the marine? And the majority of people who are assaulted do not report it especially when it is a police officer. They fear the court system because it is in the favor of the police who can get away with crimes that ordinary people cannot. If an ordinary person defends himself against a police officer the police officer can kill you and get away with it. Why? Because regardless of the fact that the police officer is doing all he or she can to enrage you you must control yourself because you are a slave when it comes to dealing with public servants. So keep on behaving like the slaves that you are and have a good night because I am sure corruption will never hit any of you!
 

ReverendHellh0und

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We always used the term "hero" derogatorily to berate and antagonize some of our more hammer like brothers and sisters.... :shrug:
 

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I was really struck by this opinion piece by retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel Astore. I think this tendency to glorify military service often leads us to go into war unnecessarily because we see our country as the policing good guys. Yet war is not a place for "good guys," and it puts on a heavy burden on the people who are participants. Thus it should be used sparingly.

I posted the main points with a link to the full piece below. What is your opinion?


Every soldier a hero? Hardly - latimes.com

"Air Force" Lt. Colonol.

Although only civilians seek to make everyone in uniform a "hero," don't think he speaks from any true insight about military affairs beyond the rear air field. His idea of "hero" was the guy who volunteered to work extra hours during flight times. Not since WWII (and maybe the exceptions in Vietnam) have the Air Force been involved in combat or what soldiers and Marines (and their Navy Corpsemen) go through.
 
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1069

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"Air Force" Lt. Colonol.

Although only civilians seek to make everyone in uniform a "hero," don't think he speaks from any true insight about military affairs beyond the rear air field. His idea of "hero" was the guy who volunteered to work extra hours during flight times. Not since WWII (and maybe the exceptions in Vietnam) have the Air Force been involved in combat or what soldiers and Marines (and their Navy Corpsemen) go through.

My grandfather was an Air Force Colonel.
He died in Vietnam, very early in the conflict. Plane crash.
I guess he's considered a "hero", since he died in a war, even though it wasn't in combat.
I mean, I think he got a bunch of posthumous awards and stuff.
I don't think he ever saw combat in his life.
 

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No most soldiers are not heroes. Most are just doing their job. And this has to be said as well. Most police officers are not heroes and they are not doing a noble service at least the majority of them are not. Most police officers have a not so dangerous job and the risk associated with being a police officer is a joke. Yes, the majority of police officers do return home so when they act like oh they might die while on duty it is a serious joke. Because they rarely die, instead you have many more incidents of police officers killing and abusing innocent people and getting away with it because the criminal court system views police officers as heroes of the state. Which helps explain why they are so rarely prosecuted for wrongdoings.

I remember that not more than five months ago a Boston police officer killed a marine and when he was going to be charged for killing the marine he had already left the state and still remains in hiding. Now just for a second think of how many people that police officer has assaulted who were innocent like the marine? And the majority of people who are assaulted do not report it especially when it is a police officer. They fear the court system because it is in the favor of the police who can get away with crimes that ordinary people cannot. If an ordinary person defends himself against a police officer the police officer can kill you and get away with it. Why? Because regardless of the fact that the police officer is doing all he or she can to enrage you you must control yourself because you are a slave when it comes to dealing with public servants. So keep on behaving like the slaves that you are and have a good night because I am sure corruption will never hit any of you!

Thanks for letting us know you hate the police. But this thread is about soldiers.
 

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My grandfather was an Air Force Colonel.
He died in Vietnam, very early in the conflict. Plane crash.
I guess he's considered a "hero", since he died in a war, even though it wasn't in combat.
I mean, I think he got a bunch of posthumous awards and stuff.
I don't think he ever saw combat in his life.

It depends on what you want to label a "hero."

Some Americans see nothing heroic about Vietnam whatsoever (my retired Father of 30 years is a Vietnam Vet by the way.) Within the military, if your Grandfather was struggling to provide air support to a ground unit when he went down, he was a hero to them. You do not necessarily have to see combat to be a hero by even the military standards. If he was dogfighting over the skies to prevent Soviet intervention then he played his part for the ground troops. But my point was that it is highly unlikely that this LtCol, in this day and age of conflict, has ever been in a position to understand what may or not be labeled as heroism. Soldiers and Marines get their close air support from either the Marines, Navy, or the Army. The Air Force's claim to fame (the F/A-22) has been too important and expensive to risk to combat.

I've read comic books. Batman seems a hell of greater identity as a hero than Superman to me. But the Navy Corpseman that saved countless Marines lives on a bridge in Basra in 2003 was a hero to many of us, though not "worthy" enough of the CMH apparently. Most people don't even know who he was. How many have Batman or Superman in mind as the "hero," which counters out real world efforts and struggles?

This idea of "hero" is largely a definition of perspective. And frankly, an Air Force officer is the last person I would seek to define it for me. I mean, really, ...how many Airmen have patrolled the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Beirut, etc. The Air Force has a job that is expressly theirs, but the Air Force has been largely looking for a job since November 1989. It's just like the Navy....unless you are Corpsmen, what has your service seen since WWII?
 
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Gray_Fox_86

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Thanks for letting us know you hate the police. But this thread is about soldiers.

ok. so you want to know how i feel about soldiers? fine i will tell you.

I find that many people salute soldiers for being "heroes" and that many soldiers feel that they are badasses and what they are doing is for this nation to protect it from evil. However, too many times have i seen a soldier who was a racist and just overall a truly despicable individual. these people fight not for good but for evil. we are not fighting an enemy like that if nazi germany anymore. instead we have have been very counter-intuitive with our foreign policy that only encourages for there to be terrrorists and that is not something that a good nation does, it is what an evil nation does. our path has been lost and we need to seriously look at ourselves and reconsider what we are doing. too many soldiers do not care for killing and that is something very frightening. but i can understand why so many soldiers are idiots. if they had studied in school and put more effort perhaps they could have gone to college and be someone and unfortuantely there are some who join because it is the only way they can go to university and become someone. but overall the vast majority of soldiers are not good people and they are ****ing despicable and they do not represent me. i would never support a soldier in these circumstances that we are facing.
 

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ok. so you want to know how i feel about soldiers? fine i will tell you.

I find that many people salute soldiers for being "heroes" and that many soldiers feel that they are badasses and what they are doing is for this nation to protect it from evil. However, too many times have i seen a soldier who was a racist and just overall a truly despicable individual. these people fight not for good but for evil. we are not fighting an enemy like that if nazi germany anymore. instead we have have been very counter-intuitive with our foreign policy that only encourages for there to be terrrorists and that is not something that a good nation does, it is what an evil nation does. our path has been lost and we need to seriously look at ourselves and reconsider what we are doing. too many soldiers do not care for killing and that is something very frightening. but i can understand why so many soldiers are idiots. if they had studied in school and put more effort perhaps they could have gone to college and be someone and unfortuantely there are some who join because it is the only way they can go to university and become someone. but overall the vast majority of soldiers are not good people and they are ****ing despicable and they do not represent me. i would never support a soldier in these circumstances that we are facing.

k, so you hate police and you hate soldiers.

Thanks.
 

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It depends on what you want to label a "hero."

Some Americans see nothing heroic about Vietnam whatsoever (my retired Father of 30 years is a Vietnam Vet by the way.) Within the military, if your Grandfather was struggling to provide air support to a ground unit when he went down, he was a hero to them. You do not necessarily have to see combat to be a hero by even the military standards. But my point was that it is highly unlikely that this LtCol, in this day and age of conflict, has ever beenin a position to understand what may or not be labeled as heroism.

I've read comic books. Batman seems a hell of greater identity as a hero than Superman to me. The Navy Corpseman that saved countless Marines lives on a bridge in Basra in 2003 was a hero to many of us, though not "worthy" enough of the CMH apparently.

This idea of "hero" is largely a definition of perspective. And frankly, an Air Force officer is the last person I would seek to define it for me. I mean, really, ...how many Airmen have patrolled the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Beirut, etc. The Air Force has a job that is expressly theirs, but the Air Force has been largely looking for a job since November 1989.


My understanding is that he was just there to teach some classes or something.
I'm not sure; I really ought to find out more about him.
 
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