You might have read a recent post by Kim Du Toit entitled “No More Heroes”, which paints a fairly grim picture of the state of our current crop of heroes as portrayed in the media and pop culture. He holds up several past examples of heroic persons, such as Joe DiMaggio, Charles Lindberg, Clark Gable, and Butch O’Hare. While I agree with him that the aforementioned are in fact heroes* I do not feel as though we are as bereft of admirable individuals as he would have us believe.
While Kim most excellently points out the lower ends of scum in our society such as Sean Penn, Barry Bonds, Paris Hilton, and Rosie O’Donnell, saying that we have no heroes or admirable men and women is definitely a falsehood. I’m not here to pick squares with Kim, but rather I want to provide you with some more positive examples of heroism from our modern age. Feel free to disagree of course. The categories for inclusion were “performed their various feats during my lifetime”, and “not a dick to people”, among other things.
In the sporting world, the definition of hero is rather loose at best, as we’re looking to reward grown men for playing what amounts to a child’s game. Nonetheless, the modern sporting world is often at the forefront of the American consciousness, which by proxy places a vast amount of attention on athletes.
Peyton Manning, QB Indianapolis Colts – His on the field exploits are the stuff that young boys dream of, from mounting seemingly impossible comebacks on the last seconds, to setting team and individual records left and right. His added the final piece to resume early this year by leading to Colts to their first Super Bowl win during their tenure in Indianapolis. Despite the tremendous amounts of money, fame, and public exposure, he’s not become a prick. After Hurricane Katrina, he and his brother personally assisted with the delivery of food and other supplies to those in need. After he threw a record breaking touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison, he and Marvin argued over who would keep the ball, but now how you’re thinking. Instead of “I want it”, their discussion was “You have it.” “No, you have it.”
Craig Biggio, 2B Houston Astros – Craig Biggio has quietly been compiling Hall of Fame statistics for 20 years of Major League Baseball. He needs less than 60 hits to have 3,000 for his career, and is 18 home runs away from joining the 300-300 club (300 homers and 300 stolen bases). If he accomplishes that this year, he’ll be the first player in Major League history to do it for one team – he’s played every season of his career for the Houston Astros. I don’t need to tell you how rare that is. Off the field, Craig is a spokesperson, generator of funds, and organizer for The Sunshine Kids, a charity dedicated to helping children with cancer.
Uh…okay, so this one is a reach.
Heroes in the real world carry much more value than a sports hero. Soldiers, Coasties, Marines, police officers, firefighters, or even ordinary citizens in extraordinary circumstances are all heroes. I have always felt that such men and women serve as far superior examples of true heroism than sports figures or movie stars any day of the week.
Nathan B. Bruckenthal, Petty Officer 3rd Class, US Coast Guard – That is a hero. Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the first Coastie to be killed in combat since the Vietnam war, he was serving TAD in the Gulf when during an inspection of a potential threat vessel, his small boat was destroyed by suicide bombers.
Jason Dunham, Corporal United States Marine Corps – Posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the Iraq Conflict, Corporal Dunham served in the finest traditions of the US Marine Corps.
There are literally hundreds of examples of heroes out there, in sports, in real life, and people that you might actually know. I’ve got four examples here, just four. I’m not trying to point out the only heroic people of the modern age, but rather I wanted to demonstrate that we do have heroes. Our outlook is neither grim nor bleak. I would love to hear about heroes that you know of in the comments section, whether it’s someone from the news, someone you know personally, etc.
*Author’s Note: Joe DiMaggio cannot be a hero, as he played for the *spit* New York Yankees. Unfortunately, being a Yankee disqualifies someone from “heroic” status. I would suggest as a replacement Ted Williams of a real baseball team (the Boston Red Sox), who was the last major league player to hit over .400 in a season. In addition, he was a decorated Marine Corps aviator, serving in WWII and Korea. Additionally, the author is a rabid Red Sox fan, and hates the Yankees.