The Price We Pay For an Overused Characterization

Serving in the Navy on carrier duty, you’d sometimes run across a mysterious stranger onboard.  Sometimes there’d be more than one, dressed uncharacteristically in OD green or civvies, with hair way too long to have seen the ship’s barber.  Spotted amidst the crew in the chow line or walking back from the gedunk, these virtual phantoms never interacted with the ship’s company, at least not that I saw and most times kept quietly to themselves.

And when the question would come up, “who are they?”, or “who is that?” you’d get the usual answers in most like circumstances:  “you don’t need to know”.  Eventually, you’d stop seeing them around the boat; their apparent departure having been as clandestine as their arrival.

In that manner among many secretive others, members of Seal team this or that come and go.  Knowledge of such operations is always on a need to know basis, past and present, first and foremost.  Yet, some members of this elite branch of service today are lacking in that something their predecessors had.  A few members seem more than willing to relate their tales of heroism to whomever is willing to listen.

It’s a lack of discretion not sitting well with the top dogs of Naval Special Warfare but such military angst is wasted on a media-served public that’s seemingly bent on hero worship; any hero worship.  With so many being hailed as heroes today and human nature being what it is, it’s not really a surprise then that those who’ve sacrificed life and limb and have seen the expense up close, would seek the same accolades for personal fame and fortune.

I think it’s the price we pay for such cavalier declarations.   As we redefine the essence of that idol hero, we relax our standards of that which we want to worship.  While we allow such flawed humanity to rise like cream to the top, we knock these otherwise prestigious individuals off of their pedestals and change the environment that creates them.  And as more and more Americans are declared to be heroes for this reason or that one, we’ll continue to have to come to grips with the part of them that isn’t as gallant as we’d like.

So, we’ll have to reconcile ourselves to the seemed selfish actions of the returning doctors or nurses refusing to endure state mandated quarantines; much to the dismay of some in the public.  We’ll need to overlook the boastful nature of the battlefield recounts of special ops servicemen as reticence is not required.

Perhaps, it’s a question of numbers.  Better still, maybe we’ll have to be a bit more judicious in distinguishing between heroic actions or behavior and what is plain, old-fashioned decent, good conduct.  Trust me, the more various types of people are placed on society’s podiums of valor, the greater the odds become that the public may not like what’s been propped up.


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