Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
When a soldier puts on his uniform for the first time, has he joined the ranks of our nation’s heroes? Or is he simply doing his job? MSNBC’s Chris Hayes chose Memorial Day to share his opinion that military service alone does not a hero make – an opinion he quickly rescinded and publicly apologized for amid a barrage of criticism.
While many thought the newsman was out of line, others supported him as simply exercising his rights to tell an uncomfortable truth.
Ed He should be fired! Not only is it insensitive but shows that he has no understanding of the news that he reports.
Michael So every person that dies is a hero? If that's a case, we need a new word to describe someone who does something heroic.
Obvious Guy Why should he be fired, Ed? I thought we had freedom of speech, which is exactly what he is exercising.
Alex No, he shouldn't. He told an uncomfortable truth. Not every soldier is a hero. Most are just soldiers, very few are heroes, and (thankfully) a very very few are villains. That distribution is representative of humans in general. noun, plural he·roes 1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities
ConLaw That's right, let's fire him for expressing his opinion. Might as well get rid of the First Amendment while we're at it, the whole right to free speech thing.
Some, including former servicemen, felt that a hero is defined by action in or out of the military.
Beadlesaz The word *hero* is greatly overused. Just serving in the military doesn't make one a hero. If so, what do you call the fellow (or woman) who lays down his life to help his comrades survive? Those who serve in the military do so at possibly great personal peril and the nation should be thankful. But service to one's country should be viewed as good citizenship. And, such service may take many forms – not everyone can or should serve in the military. Let's save the hero worship for those who truly deserve it.
– Retired Navy Captain
RootenTooten No real need for Chris to apologize. If anything maybe Memorial Day might not have been the best time to have such a discussion, but fundamentally he's right – the mere act of putting on a uniform, any uniform, doesn't make a Hero. To broaden that term to anyone who has put on a uniform only makes it meaningless. I've even seen some who post here making it seem like ONLY those in uniform could possibly be heroes, or even understand heroism or be qualified to comment on it – I hate to break it to these folks but plain old civilians save each others lives and sacrifice for others on a daily basis, all over the country and around the world. Are these folks not heroes because they aren't in the military ?
What's most telling about this to me is whenever someone who has performed an act of pure bravery and self sacrifice and saved lives or prevented disaster, military or civilian, is interviewed, the interviewer always asks a question along the lines of "So how does it feel to me/do you consider yourself a Hero ?" and the true Hero always replies "I'm not a hero. I just did what had to be done"
Some debated whether serving in the military is inherently heroic, or just a case of working citizens doing their job.
Phil Dolan The military has defined who is and who is not a hero in the military for centuries. Aren't they more qualified to define a military hero than some news guy who never served? The military rewards men/women who are designated heroes with one or more of several awards for valor.
For example, if you are looking at a soldier wearing a Purple Heart or other award of valor then you are looking at a hero. A real hero.
I served in Vietnam and I've looked in the faces of many heroes. Plus, there is nothing wrong with calling anyone who served a hero. But to say they are not heroes is an insult to everyone who did serve.
Liz Chris is right. For most recruits, joining the service is an economic choice. It's a job, it can pay for college, etc. Just doing what you're paid to do isn't heroic. I'll always whole-heartedly support the troops even though I believe war is wrong and the rationale given the young people is mostly lies. Many, many of them come back disillusioned, traumatized both physically and psychologically, and against war. But heroism is above and beyond what is expected, for the benefit of another.