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What is a Hero?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There are many heroes in this world, but the word “hero” itself has become a hackneyed label. Time and again it is circumstance that brings out an individual’s heroic qualities. Our military members who are serving our country and fighting for the freedom of people in a foreign land are undeniably heroes.

Frequently, many heroes pay the ultimate price while serving others, such as the brave firemen, policemen, and civilians who sacrificed their lives trying to save the victims of 9/11. For the heroes who survive their crucibles, they tend to continue serving with a degree of humility and meekness. How many heroes do we know that flaunt themselves as such? Heroes are modest, truthful, loyal, and selfless.

My previous article about John McCain mocked him for several reasons, including his constant reminder to us that he suffered as POW in Vietnam. I respect that John McCain served and sacrificed for our country. But I do not admire anything that is known about him before his time as a POW or after his release. It is impossible for us who have never endured such an experience to understand what McCain must have gone through. Having survived it, however, why does he so bitterly oppose the POW/MIA families (From Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain)? His actions and behavior are nothing short of disturbing. Why wouldn’t everyone question McCain’s motives concerning this subject?

My own father was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who served two tours in Vietnam. In fact, I was born while he was there in 1967. Was my father any less of a hero than John McCain, simply because my dad was never shot down? Nevertheless, my father rarely spoke of his experiences involving the war. However, he battled severe depressions pretty much from the time when he came home, until the day he died in 1993.

A month before his death, my dad had dropped me off in Quantico, Virginia. I was following in his footsteps, as I was also about to become a Marine. Before this event, my dad had also witnessed my brother’s graduation from the Naval Academy and his commissioning into the Corps, as well.

Although my father had survived two tours in Vietnam, his skills and good fortunes were not enough to help him escape a different war: his own progressively escalating war with depression. On February 20, 1993, my hero flew his life’s final sortie. He was only fifty-six years old. Are men like my father not heroes?

My dad certainly did not have a perfect life. But he never used his depression, his lost friends, or his imagining the kind of death napalm brought to the people he killed in Vietnam to shield him from any criticism that he deserved.

My article about John McCain was sarcastic, but accurate. It also proved my assertion about how some people view victims. A segment of our society “feels” that we are not allowed to judge others -- particularly those who have previously endured great suffering.

Such “feelings” are utter nonsense. The way people conduct themselves is the evidence we had better use to draw logical conclusions about them. Excusing bad conduct due to something that happened in an individual’s past is down right absurd. God gave each of us a brain to think with, and when something doesn’t make sense, it’s usually because it isn’t true.

John McCain did not behave like a hero before he was a POW. I do not know what he behaved like as a POW. But he has not behaved like a hero since he has been freed from being a POW. Consequently, I do not consider him a hero. It’s that simple.

America is the greatest country in the world. If McCain were not running for its most prestigious position, his constant reminder that he was a POW would not matter in the least. But John McCain’s own bad conduct and questionable character since his release are in part what disqualify him from the honor and responsibility of being the President of the United States. Furthermore, he has not demonstrated the integrity, loyalty, tact, self-discipline, judgment, justice, dependability, and unselfishness to handle that level of leadership.

We should find it alarming that we, as a country, appear ready to disqualify two principled candidates because of their religious faiths, but prepared to settle for the one who has clearly besmirched his own image.

It now appears that America desperately needs another great hero, but this time one to rescue us from ourselves.

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