ENG122: English Composition II (ACE1350A)
Instructor: Shelley Palmer
January 28, 2014
According to Greek mythology, and folklore a hero was a mythological or legendary figure, often of divine dissent. The word hero, in former times, meant warrior, protector or defender. In the early twentieth century, heroes celebrated in the media shifted, now celebrating athletes, and celebrities as heroes. Today heroism is more complex, and while some view sports figures and celebrities as heroes, they do not fit the criteria. Therefore, labeling sports figures and celebrities as heroes misplaces the respect a real hero deserves.
When you think of the word hero, what image comes to mind? There are many different opinions defining the word hero. A mixture of hero types, and disputable opinions, together, offer the reader different understanding into controversies concerning sports figures, and celebrities labeled as heroes.
Research conducted by sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, and retired sports players examine various distinctions that characterize heroes. Heroes listed as result of combined research includes cultural, political, war, sports, celebrity, personal, and unsung heroes.
Unsung heroes (unknown heroes) are ordinary men, women, or children, ranging from age nine to early eighties; they are rich and poor, they are bums and millionaires. One example of unsung hero is volunteers, firefighters, and other emergency workers. U.S. News & World Report (2001) reports that 9,000 New York City’s Firefighters, and other emergency workers went into burning and collapsed buildings, knowing the danger, once known as the World Trade Center. “We lost 10 of our guys in the building collapse, says Steve Riccio of Ladder 2, Engine 8, on 51st Street” (Para 2). “We have guys alive, and they’re calling, from cell phones, and we can’t get to them, because there’s a building collapse going on. The most frustrating thing is that we want to go in there and rescue our brothers and they won’t let us” (Para. 2).
The Saturday Evening Post (1950) documents other examples of unsung heroes; shares numerous stories of people who, “on behalf of total strangers, leap in front of speeding trains, fight homicidal maniacs, risk going over Niagara Falls, walk into flaming oil, and plunge their arms into vats of burning sulphuric acid” (Yoder, p. 124). Charles Coe, of Texas, entered a one-story shack, which caught on fire, to save the children inside although they were not his children. He lost his life leaving three children, and a widow. Laurence Bubeer, a nine-year-old boy saved a “five-year-old from a cauldron of boiling oak bark” (p.123).
Heroism is a mystery, and “fate seems too delight in confronting the frail, ailing, and the unprepared with almost impossible assignments. They carry them out with reserves of strength marshaled from no one knows where” (p.124). Heroism often costs a hero their life, because instantaneously a hero is starring into the face of danger. With no time to think or prepare, a hero acts on impulse despite danger. The courage and heart of individuals, who seem to come from nowhere, offer hope that human decency can prevail.
Another type of hero is a philanthropist (A wealthy person who gives money and time to promote human welfare). Andrew Carnegie, steel baron, and philanthropist, retired at age 66 with one-half billion dollars, and pronounced, “It’s a disgrace to die rich” (Yoder, p. 122). Carnegie believed wealthy people were morally obligated to give money back to society for good causes.
Andrew Carnegie retired in 1901, the world’s richest man, and created numerous charitable institutions. In 1904, Andrew Carnegie created the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, commissioned by 21 friends, men of substance. Every year the commission conducts studies of heroism and self-sacrifice. “The kind of heroism with which the commission is