When I was five years old, I received a coonskin cap for Christmas. My hero at that time was Davy Crocket. I watched him on a TV show every week. Another hero I had was Hopalong Cassidy. I watched his show and I really wanted a Hopalong Cassidy mug so I could drink my Ovaltine. Some years later, when I was a teenager one of my heroes became Captain James T. Kirk from the TV show Star Trek. It wasn’t until later in my young life that I realized these guys were not heroes. They were fictionalized characters doing heroic things.
After being drafted into the Army I met many real-life heroes. These men put their lives on the line throughout their military career. While going through Special Forces training, we were on parade every Saturday morning. The purpose of these events was to award soldiers the medals they had earned while serving in Viet Nam. These men were true heroes. I felt privileged to walk among them and to be trained by them.
Who are America’s heroes today? Are they sports stars, movie stars, TV stars, or people who get lots of “clicks” on YouTube? Are they politicians who sit in their ivory towers and make the laws we are forced to live by when it seems the laws don’t apply to them?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of hero is “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities and one who shows great courage.” Researchers have identified 12 characteristics of heroism. They are: Bravery, Conviction, Courage, Determination, Helpful, Honesty, Inspirational, Moral Integrity, Protective, Self-sacrifice, Selflessness, and Strength. These are the characteristics we should look for in our heroes.
Over the years the definition of a hero has changed. We now look at our historic heroes with a disapproving eye. Today many people focus on their flaws and failings instead of appreciating their courage and fortitude. Our heroes are being “canceled” after being judged by today’s standards instead of the time in which they lived.
We have all watched in alarm as statues of these great men have been vandalized and torn from their foundations by people who have been taught to hate America and all it stands for. They completely ignore our history. No one has ever said that America, or its people, are perfect, only that it is a place where men and women may live free and strive for their best life. The founders understood that America isn’t perfect as evidenced by the passage of the Bill of Rights and all the Amendments that followed.
I was appalled when Nancy Pelosi presented an American flag to the family of George Floyd. While doing do so she said “thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice… Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world, who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.” A few weeks later President Biden presented a Medal of Honor to a true American hero, retired Army Ranger Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr., for his bravery and heroic acts during the Korean war. Two days later the President invited the Floyd family to the White House to honor their sacrifice to our nation, which signaled that George Floyd and Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. are equal in hero status. It’s sad that so few people today do not understand the meaning of honor, courage, duty and sacrifice.
What makes a person a hero? Is it the person who does their job well? Is it the person who was “allowed” to go to work and earn a living during Covid? Or is it the person who saves a life at no risk to himself? I don’t believe so, but they are called heroes in the news and especially in social media. According to heroism researchers Philip Zimbardo and Zino Franco, heroes have a strong moral compass. They have two essential qualities that set them apart, they live by their values and they are willing to endure personal risk to protect those values.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” What we need today are modern day heroes. People who are willing to fight for a good cause, for the benefit of others, even when it requires sacrifice on their part. We need men and women who will stand up and lead the way for others to do the same. We are now beginning to see that in the parents who show up at school board meetings to oppose radical curriculums in their schools.
Very few of us will ever be called on to pledge our lives, our fortunes, or our sacred honor for this great country, but that does not excuse us from the fight. I believe we are in a fight for our civil liberties. I’m encouraged because I’m hearing that more of our citizens are beginning to realize this. The third verse of the song America The Beautiful is; “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, Who more than self their country love and mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine till all success be nobleness, And every gain divine!”
We live in the greatest country on earth. There are people all around us who wish to “fundamentally change” it and not for the better. We need warriors who will fight for freedom, who will not give up the good fight. It’s the warriors who become heroes. I urge us all to be warriors in the cause of freedom and just maybe you’ll be a hero too.
Ski Ingram is a member of Lester Keate Post 90 of the American Legion in St. George, Utah and lives in Gilbert, Arizona. He is a veteran and is a life member of five different veteran’s organizations as well as the NRA. He can be reached at Rangerski@cox.net. Or www.Skiingram.com