John McCain? WHY?

The word gets thrown around a lot, especially lately, HERO.

The firefighters, who went up the stairs while others were running down to escape fire, are heroes. The policeman who got shot last night is a hero, soldiers who are fighting in Iraq are heroes, and the one that is really having me hit the dictionary lately refers to John McCain as a hero. WHY?

Why is McCain a hero? He enlisted to the Navy voluntarily mainly because his father and his grand father were both Navy boys. He knew joining the Navy means possible fighting in a time of war, which America, thank you very much, is almost always involved in some corner of the world. He knew going to Vietnam runs a risk of getting shot down, in fact he got shot down a few times before he got captured. He knew there is a chance to get hurt, captured, or even killed.

He went to fly planes and rain bullets and bombs on everything that moved in North Vietnam thousands of miles away from his home, when his country was in no danger and no one had attacked it. He was paid for the job done and due to his hard headedness and stupidity got shot down one last time and was captured.

Everyone keeps talking about the time he served in the air force for his country. That makes him a hero. How, exactly?

For that matter, any soldier in today’s America, who makes a decision to join the armed forces and goes to a country far away to fight a nation who never considered itself an enemy of U.S. and never attacked the United States and even the White House announced that there were no evidence leading Iraq to the attacks of 9/11, knows that he is going to a place where he may get hurt or killed. When he does not get killed that makes him a hero? He was getting paid for a job and he was doing his job. Part of his job is to kill or get killed.

Fire fighters job description and also the police’s include danger, high grade danger. They know chances of a building collapsing on top of them, getting burned, get hurt in a car accident or getting shot is a part of their job.

You never hear of doctors, nurses, technologists, lab technicians, and anyone who deals with death and disease as heroes. Why? They save a lot more lives than any fire fighter, police, and especially any soldier, so why not a hero label?

Does anyone have an idea what a medical researcher does hours and hours behind a microscope, sifting through tubes of diseased ridden fluids looking for a cure? Any idea what a doctor goes through trying to find a medication to prolong someone’s life? Any idea what goes through a chemist’s mind when he/she is trying to come up with just the right mixture of chemo therapy solution for a cancer patient? One that doesn’t kill the patient but allows him/her to live for a few months or years longer?

The word is being used and abused without too many of us even realizing what it means and how one becomes to be recognized as a hero.

Hero is a father who has to work extra hours and gives up his food for his wife and kids saying, “ohh, I’m not that hungry”.

Hero is a grandmother who gives up her life savings and her best years of her leisure years to look after a grand child or help her adult child who has fallen on hard times.

Heroes were the young men who went to the front lines of Iran Iraq war, for the first couple of years at least, and fought valiantly to save their mother land.

Hero is one of those young boys, in particular, that I spoke with in length in Iran. He was 18, the son of a decorated colonel in the army. Nephew of three uncles who had served in the armed forces in Iran and each one of them could have easily lined up a desk job for him to serve his two years of service. He told them all, “No”, “I want to go to the front and I want to fight for my country”. He was not a soldier of fortune — he fought enemy forces on his country’s soil and pushed them back.

To me, that is a hero. Quite a long definition, but I think the dictionary ought to have some sort of reference to a real meaning of the word HERO.

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