What constitutes a hero? How do we decide who’s a hero worthy of praise and public adulation?
This morning’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram featured a large front-page picture of a man who died yesterday. That was followed by a two-page article about what a great man he was. This was a man who’s claim to fame and heroism was that he was clever enough to get elected to Congress and then stay in office without standing for any principle.
When I was in college back in the early 60’s, it was said about a certain Southern politician that whenever someone asked his position on an issue, he would reply that half of his friends were for it, half were against it, and that he was for his friends. That fit the man our newspaper was honoring today to a T. If he ever had a strong conviction about any principle during the 35 years or so he was in office, I never heard mention of it. He finally left office in disgrace after it was discovered he wrote some book and sold copies by coercing people seeking to do business with the government to buy them.
During his first term in office, this man figured out that if he could manage to take credit for contracts awarded to General Dynamics and Bell Helicopter, two of the largest employers in the county, people would feel grateful to him for their jobs and for the general prosperity of the area. He rode that horse to stay in office for the rest of his career.
Politician’s are usually known and supported for being liberals or conservatives—for having and defending certain principles. This man never publicly proclaimed himself to be either liberal or conservative or anything else. He was for his own reelection and whatever winds would blow in the right direction to achieve it.
We named a freeway after him, just as Dallas named a freeway after a man who had a courthouse burned down once to destroy any records of fraud in one of his early elections. Why do we do things like this?
Are there politicians who deserve the title hero? Yes, but not just because they were clever enough to win elections. I would not have voted for Harry Truman had I been a voter in his day, but I respect the man, even while I disagree with his politics. At least you knew where he stood. He was a man of principle and a hero.
You might not have voted for Ronald Reagan, but most people would agree that he was a man of principle. At the time he came into office, our nation was in the midst of a horrible economic problem called stagflation. Our prestige around the world was at an all-time low ebb. He restored our national pride, got the economy moving, and caused the demise of the Soviet Union. He was a man of principle and a hero.
While most politicians are serving themselves and their own egos, men and women are being killed or wounded in the armed forces trying to keep our nation free. Others risk their lives daily protecting us from criminals or fighting fires. These people are the real heroes. Where are their monuments? Where are the freeways named after them?
Whom do you think we should honor by building statues and naming bridges and freeways after them? Who are the real heroes to you?
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