Symposium 2016: The word hero is one that is bandied about quite regularly and seems to be applied to almost anyone just doing his or her job? Is the term overused and should hero status be assigned or given to only a certain few?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- The word hero is one that is overused and political correctness has allowed its overuse. Now it seems that anyone can be a hero, and it has gotten to the point that the word has lost its real significance. Nowadays it seems that a person can be a hero automatically, solely through their trade or profession. Everyone is awarded a prize or honorary award simply for doing ordinary, everyday things.

It’s like labeling all members of the armed forces as heroes when a specific or particular person in the military is the hero. There is more of a probability of a military person being a hero as opposed to say a baker, but the term hero has to be applied to specific individuals for specific acts or patterns of behavior that characterize the term hero.

By definition, a hero is someone who voluntarily puts his or her life in jeopardy or on the line through an action or involvement that entails significant risk within an already extremely tense, volatile or dangerous situation. The person is making a choice of self-sacrifice under considerable personal risk.  When there is not a possibility of choice in a situation, or if the choice is made to sustain self, or the circumstances and consequences are negligible, the person’s actions are not heroic.

When something is available in large amounts, it becomes cheapened and that includes heroism. Now the word seems to be equated with victims and faux heroes. Victims aren’t heroes and a person that simply behaves well is not a hero. In difficult situations, whether a war, catastrophe, criminal action, terrorist attack, or other predicament, people are expected to perform their duties and behave in an honorable fashion. The few who take extreme risks or sacrifice their lives have gone beyond what is expected of them. They truly warrant special recognition and hero status. A real hero, as defined by the American Heritage dictionary is a person noted for “feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked.”  A hero is one who towers and stands out above others and has “distinguished themselves by reputation.”

The term hero has been overused and hero status needs to remain a designation for a select few.  Giving blanket hero status to those in everyday life who have done a good job,  acted maturely in the face of danger, or have simply lived a decent life doesn’t  automatically qualify them for recognition as a hero.

The term hero should only be applied to a certain few that have met the characterization of a true hero.  True heroes must be recognized as those who voluntarily put themselves at risk of death for the betterment of others and have gone a step above what is expected of them. True heroes are exemplary examples of what many would aspire to be and part of that sense of thought is

As Hollywood actor, Tom Hanks, explained   after playing the role of retired airplane pilot hero, Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, in the movie Sully, “That happens on occasion and it is a ridiculously overused word because it’s shorthand for accomplishment. Not all accomplishments are heroic accomplishments. … Heroism is rare as lightning storms.”


Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- We won’t ever get down to the bare bones definition of Hero. I personally don’t think it’s overused. It’s just a wide definition, there are so many ways people can be hero’s.

Someone who faces adversity but stands up and doesn’t hide can be a hero. Our troops, all are hero’s. Someone who speaks up for those who can’t, like a shelter volunteer who spends every day walking dogs is a hero.

Think of a father who’s wife leaves him with three kids. He works two jobs one third shift. He still goes to every PTA meeting and every chorus recital and has at least one family dinner each week with the family. Well… arguably that man is a hero! He works harder, and longer to give his family everything they need. Sure he could probably sit at home and collect welfare and food stamps. But he doesn’t. Maybe that’s the long and short of it. A hero is someone who could take the easy way out but doesn’t; someone who goes above and beyond what’s expected of them.

It’s really hard to say we use it too loosely. Maybe we do. I guess you can call it positive reinforcement, tell someone they are doing “good” and they will keep doing it. I say if it’s justified use Hero all you want!

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- The term hero is subjective in nature and therefore open to interpretation. One definition of a hero is someone admired for achievements and noble qualities, which are also subjective terms. In that sense, a hero can be almost anyone in the eyes of anyone else. One person may admire someone for rescuing an animal from a burning building. Another may admire someone for gaming the government entitlement system by faking disability to get undeserved Social Security benefits because that’s a lifestyle the admirer aspires to achieve. Other heroes may score the winning goal or hit the game-winning home run in a meaningless sports contest.

I don’t think the word hero is overused as much as the criteria for what qualifies as a hero in our culture has been expanded or inflated. We have “hero inflation” in the same sense that we suffer from monetary inflation, grade inflation, inflated expectations for amassing wealth, getting easy, high-paying jobs, having bigger and fancier houses and cars, and living an affluent life in general.

Conversely, heroic deeds may be small and seemingly insignificant. Consider the single mother with several kids who works impossible hours at low wages to make sure her children are fed, clothed, and get to school every day. Yes, she’s just doing her job—being a responsible parent—but most of us admire parents like that who persevere against great odds. It’s fair to call her a hero, and her children will likely see her as a hero when they become adults themselves. It’s harder to bestow the mantle of hero upon a working mother who earns a high income and can pay for help to make sure her kids are fed, clothed, and get to school every day. Yet, her children may see her as a hero as well, and that’s their prerogative. Although it might be good to have certain standards for heroism, it doesn’t seem possible to come up with standards everyone will accept. Anyone’s heroes should be of their own choosing for their own reasons.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- A police officer or firefighter is not a hero just because he or she puts on the uniform and does their job. The same for our military personnel.  To be a hero, one must perform heroic acts, and busting drug dealers, putting out house fires and driving a tank, while certainly difficult and of value to society at large, do not qualify.  Put your life at risk for others, save those in mortal distress or otherwise give of yourself to a degree no reasonable person would expect and you’re a hero.

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