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What is heroism?

People routinely refer to our troops in Iraq as heroes. What is heroism in an unjust war?

Charley Gibson of Good Morning America, as so many news people do, referred to our troops in Iraq as heroes. I flinch when I hear that. Can we give blanket praise to all who are fighting in this unjust war? Some have probably performed heroic deads. Others have committed crimes against the Iraqi people, and have done it with the blessing of the U.S. government.
Charley Gibson of Good Morning America, as so many news people do, referred to our troops in Iraq as heroes. I flinch when I hear that. Can we give blanket praise to all who are fighting in this unjust war? Some have probably performed heroic deads. Others have committed crimes against the Iraqi people, and have done it with the blessing of the U.S. government.

The following letter was sent to Good Morning America today, Wednesday, December 15, 2004.

Charley, what is a hero? Is an armed robber a hero because he carries a gun into a dangerous situation? Were the Columbine killers heroes? They must have known that they would be shot doing what they were going to do.

Our troops in Iraq may be heroes when they perform heroic deeds such as protecting their fellow soldiers, at the risk of their own lives. But, Charley, you can't paint this as a heroic war. This is a war of aggression in which tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. It is an unjust war driven by the lies of the Bush administration that lied to us about weapons of mass destruction, ties to Al Qaeda, ties to 9/11, yellow cake, aluminum tubes, etc. They even lied to us about the mass graves.

Charley, are you aware that many of the mass graves were filled by U.S. troops driving bull dozers during the first Gulf war as they buried Iraqi troops that were slaughtered "In the Kill Box." By the way, you need to see that documentary. It shows how Iraqis were slaughtered in the desert of Iraq. The intention of our generals was to totally kill 15,000 troops in each of dozens of kill boxes, areas on a map of Iraq that were estimated to have 15,000 Iraqi troops. There was no plan to take prisoners; Charley, it was intentional slaughter by the first Bush administration.

So, getting back to my question; what is a hero? What is heroism? The heroes of the Vietnam War were the ones who fled to Canada, an action that I didn't approve of at the time. I now realize that they were right and the troops who went to Vietnam were victims, not heroes of a government that started an unjustified war against an Asian country that was no threat to us. Now our "heroes" are killing thousands of innocent men, women and children in another unjust war. Some of our heroes will be prosecuted for deliberately killing civilians and wounded Iraqis. Some will kill and get away with it because no one will tell about what they have done.

Many American troops are committing suicide in Iraq. We don't get statistics on that. Have you wondered why? Could it be because of things they have seen and done, things that were opposed to their basic moral values? Many are coming home with mental disorders that will haunt and cripple them for the rest of their lives. They may have killed innocent civilians and soldiers who really didn't have to die, and wouldn't have died if the Bush administration had not started this unjust war, based on lies and on the fear of another 9/11 attack.

Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 but the American people were sold the idea that he had. The news media did a poor job of informing the public of the truth. A lot of that blame belongs to Good Morning America, a program that played into the hands of the Bush administration. Dianne has been selling this war ever since before it started. I got so angry at her that I refused to watch the show for a very long time. She did seem to "get it" when she interviewed George W. Bush about WMDs. When Bush changed his story to "plans to produce WMD, and he couldn't see a difference, I thought the light of insight finally was turned on in her pretty blond head. Now I don't think so. There must be something in that blond rinse that turns off the thought processes.

Is ABC, and are the other networks so intimidated by this administration that it and they fear presenting the truth to the American people? Don't you realize that if you would present the facts in the face of administration threats, you and the network would be real heroes? Ones who would be brave enough to stand up to the Bush administration and the FCC and say, "Look, we are in the news business, not the propaganda business, and we are going to do our jobs. That would be real heroism.

Gene W. DeVaux
Greenwood, MO

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Re: What is heroism

Bravo, Gene! I'll be anxious to hear his response, if he has the guts.

Re: What is heroism

Right on Gene, you said so eloquently what I believe so stronly to be true!!! The true "Heros" are those that stand up to tyranny no matter where it lies!

Re: What is heroism

In Vietnam we also flew in Rome Plows and buried the enemy in ditches. At last count the US had 1800 MIAs, the Vietnamese had about 350,000.
In WWII, did you ever see pictures of POWs coming off the S. Pacific Islands after the Marines had secured a beachead? NO. Why? No Pows were usually taken, they were shot, then burned. War is terrible and the idea is to kill the other guy, and if civilians get in the way, they die too. Heroism is like pornography. You know it when you see it.----Agreed, we are many times the bad guys.--"Doc"Barnes-Combat Medic-25th Inf Div.-VN,68-69.

Re: What is heroism

Thanks Gene, for expressing so much of what I feel! I only wish you hadn't mentioned Diane's blond hair and "rinse." I think it took away from the insight you were sharing; you seemed to be a little nasty about it. Otherwise, thanks for putting it out there.

Re: What is heroism

I agree with everything Gene said in this article. It is too bad most of American will not have access to this information.

Re: What is heroism?

A few things could be added to the list of heroic things the US troops who served in Vietnam: Fragging (killing unpopular officer who sent troops on dangerous missions), destruction of millitary equipment, 'search and avoid' missions, sit down strikes and refusal of orders. I believe it will take actions like these from US soldiers in Iraq, along with a distruptive civillian anti-war movement to end the war before Iraq is turned into a perfect neo-liberal state (with much of its population dead or imprisoned).

Re: What is heroism?

Excellent article Gene, thanks for calling it like it is. I agree that there can be no heros in this invasive war based on lies, paranoia and monied interests. The soldiers who go are mostly poor kids who got duped into fighting someone else's battle for college scholarships and/or career opportunities. The real heros are the refusniks who are in military prisons or in exile in Canada, because of their refusal to participate in a war they knew to be unjust.

Re: What is heroism?

Oh my, I have found a nest of moonbats.

Re: What is heroism?

I am not really sure what it means to be a hero. I am sure that there has never, ever in human history and prehistory been a time or a place that humans did not engage in violent conflict with other humans. And in that time the reasons used to justify this behavior have always been personal interest. It is just a matter of how one manipulates the language.
I must say that it is in fact a heroic deed to participate in armed conflict in the service of your country. There are many reasons people join the military but they are all aware of what it means to follow orders and support the system that allows them life they have back home. The german soldiers who fought in WWII were heroic, the crusaders of the first crusade were heroic, the Egyptian soldiers who fought the British over Suez were heroic, the Spartan soldiers who fought at thermopoly were heroic...deciding to fight, kill and possibly die for something larger than yourself is no easy task. No one, not Pres. Bush, not the late Yasser Arafat nor Shimon Peres nor Wen Jiabao any other world leader believes that war and violence are a good thing. No one thinks it is cool to shoot and kill other humans, NO ONE! But it is, like it or not, part of the human experience and I for one believe that fighting and dying for your government, even if you do not egree with its policy, is indeed heroic. People all over the US do far worse to one another every-single-day in so many ways and they do it with a smile on their faces. As for truth? There ae as many versions of the truth as there are people to tell it. Postmodernism is here to stay and it is never going to be, and actually it never was, easy to draw clear lines between honest motives and dubious ones. The best we can do is have a clear idea about who we are as individual Americans living in a global society and try as hard as possible to be compassionate toward one another. If we had stayed out of Iraq and Saddum Hussein had one day used any kind, not just wmds, of weapon against his neighbors or own his own people the current administration, republican democrat or Libertarian would have been criticized for not acting. We went in and had several difficulties and we were criticized. It is almost impossible now for the US to make any moves without making some person angry some place. I suggest to everyone who really hates the US to get out and go live in Yemen. It's a great place. I tend to think however that with the backdrop of the suburban middle-class establishment against which to define your self against hating the US would loose a lot of its charm. I live in Japan. It's not the worst place in the world nor the best. I don't have to worry about being killed in a drive-by shooting in Tokyo nor being caught in the middle of a gang conflict. On the other hand, we in the US have it way to easy. We have the freedom to vote and complain, to protest through a variety of expressions. Try this kind of posting in China. Or try to exhibit photos of a Koran in a toilet in Saudi Arabia. US citizens are going to be its downfall because we do not know how good we have it. Anyway, if you think its really so bad immigrate to a nice welcoming country like North Korea or hey! the weather in Cuba is nice.


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