The Norman Transcript

September 12, 2013

Meaning of ‘hero’ is skewed


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I have discovered in my years that the meaning of certain words has either changed or evolved over time. One word that comes to mind is the word “hero.” It seems this word, which at one time had a very narrow definition, has broadened its field of vision.

The troops who landed at Normandy during World War II are heroes. The soldiers who battled at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea are heroes. The helicopter pilots in Vietnam who flew through heavy ground fire to evacuate wounded troops are heroes. The seals who took out Osama Bin Laden are heroes. Those who gave their lives in Benghazi in defense of Americans are heroes.

Heroes are not motivated by self-interest. Heroes are not out to make a name for themselves. Heroes put the interest of others ahead of their own. Heroes make sacrifices, even if that sacrifice costs them their lives.

Bradley Manning, in some circles, is being called a hero. My question is, did Manning demonstrate any attribute we would normally associate with heroism? I’m not sure violating your oath of enlistment and leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to an Internet website qualifies one as a hero. Manning didn’t save anyone’s life. He didn’t run into a burning house to rescue a child. What he did, by leaking confidential information, was jeopardize the lives of thousands of our military personnel.

During my years in the Navy, I met some true heroes. I rubbed elbows with some true heroes. Manning is no hero.

Sen. Frank Simpson

Ardmore