A bit more than five years ago I wrote an article titled “Earning Heroism.” Since then, with the deterioration of the media and our general culture, the qualifications for heroism have surpassed rock bottom levels, and are rapidly headed for the bottom of the Mariana Trench. We’re now reduced to lauding the heroism of steroid animated, overly pumped adolescents paid millions for playing a children’s game as they “take a knee” and turn their backs at the playing of the National Anthem, nobly protesting while helping to widen the racial gap. Since 2012, there has been true heroism, not only on the battlefield, but on a train in France. But I thought it worthwhile, gentle readers, to remind us what the media cannot recognize or abide. The 2012 article:
At the Wall Street Journal Online on July 25, 2012, James Taranto wrote a brief article that well illustrates the sickness of our times, yet simultaneously gives ample reason for hope, not Obamite “hopenchange,” but actual, life-sustaining hope, not only for our nation, but for ourselves.
It all began with a tweet in response to the news that at the Aurora theater shooting, three young men gave their lives—shielding their girlfriends with their bodies—to save them. The tweet:
We intended this to be thought-provoking, but to judge by the response, very few people received it that way. The vast majority found it offensive and insulting.
Offensive and insulting? Three young men willingly gave their lives that their girlfriends—and others—might live, and the hope that those people might be worthy of such noble sacrifice was offensive and insulting? Before I continue, let’s take a moment to understand these noble men just a little better (from The New York Post via WSJ Online):
Jonathan Blunk, 26, ‘threw his date, Jansen Young, 21, to the floor, pushing her under the seat. ‘Stay down!’ he told her, moments before he was shot to death.’ Blunk ‘drew on his military experience. ‘He knew, and threw me on the ground and was like, ‘We have to get down and stay down,’ ‘ [Young] told the ‘Today’ show.’ She added: ‘He took a bullet for me.’
Matt McQuinn, 27, was at the movie with girlfriend Samantha Yowler, also 27, and her brother, Nick. ‘When [the gunman] started firing into the audience, Matt and Nick, sitting with Samantha between them, ‘both jumped sideways in front of her,’ family lawyer Ron Scott told The Post. ‘Matt took three hits, one in the chest, one in the back, and one in the leg,’ he said.’ Samantha was wounded but survived. So did Nick.
Alex Teves, 24, ‘used his body to cover girlfriend Amanda Lindgren, Teves’ grandmother Rae Iacovelli told The Post. ‘He shielded her. He got down on the floor and covered her up,’ said Iacovelli, . . . ‘She was pulled out from under him. I don’t know who pulled her out.’
We live in a time when black is white and up is down, when cowardice and going along with politically correct, morally deranged expediency is lauded as heroic. Our children look up to entertainers and sports figures, people famous for being famous, whose moral fiber is ephemeral as fairy dust. Our media ignore myriad stories of true military heroism, heroism that not only meets the real definition of the word, but defines the heroes and American character, while lauding frauds like former vice presidents, presidents and sitting presidents who are awarded a Nobel peace prize for making false pseudo-documentaries, sucking up to terrorists, and for accomplishing nothing at all save being “cool.” We should know better; we must know better.
There is no better source, no better definition, than the Bible (King James Version, John 15:13:):
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
What better epitaph for any man than that he loved greatly and that his love was greater than life itself? What gift more meaningful, costly and precious? What memory more cherished and lasting?
Movies like The Avengers are a step in the right direction. While those heroes have super powers and powerful technology, their risks are aligned with their abilities, their foes so powerful they could lose it all. In watching that movie in theaters across the nation, Americans experienced, for a few hours, what it is to be heroic, to have that greater love.
But how much greater is the love of those without super powers, without hi-tech armor and weapons, that gave their lives, knowing their actions would likely force them to pay the ultimate price, to give the “last full measure of devotion,” as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address?
Despite those who would deny it, despite those who substitute political pandering for heroism, true heroism transcends race, gender and any other petty human concern. That it was men saving women offends some, for to mean and shriveled souls, men cannot be good or noble; men must always be brutish oppressors. But the truth is if America is to survive, if it is to once again be that shining city on a hill, the last, best hope of mankind, American men—in unprecedented numbers—must once again, as they always have, embrace love and heroism. They must, once again, embrace the most noble and honorable aspects and responsibilities of manhood, for any man who will not risk his life to protect women is not a man at all.
Near the end of Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hank’s dying Captain Miller tells Matt Damon’s Private Ryan “earn this,” earn the sacrifice that allowed him to live, to have tomorrows.
We can earn the benefits, the honor, of the sacrifice of Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves by always remembering their names, and by telling their stories—the stories of the greatest love man can attain—to our young that they will remember and understand what heroism must always and finally be, that they will accept nothing less. And the young women who, thanks to their love and devotion, have tomorrow can earn it by living their lives honorably, and by teaching their boys and men—by demanding of them—true manhood. True womanhood demands no less.
Requiscat in pacem, Jonathan, Matt and Alex. Ave Atque vale.
Update, 08-25-17, 2020 CST: My dear friend Bookworm–if you’re not reading her blog you’re missing a treat–ads:
Looking at all those kneeling men, it occurred to me that many of them probably don’t even have the strength of their (foolish) principles. I’m damn certain a lot of them are just responding to peer pressure from their own teammates.
I’ve discovered that, since joint injuries forced me to leave my dojo, which was a favorite hangout of mine despite the liberal owners and members, I’ve become much more outspoken politically on Facebook. My kids are also at the point in their education that requires little from me, so I’m not worried about damaging their grades or college admission efforts. The cost to me of showing my true colors has diminished substantially. The peer pressure that plagued my daily life is lessening.
The truth does tend to set one free.