Meadville Tribune

Local News

July 7, 2013

SUNDAY ISSUE: What makes a 'hero'?

MEADVILLE — Editor’s note: The following is written by Richard Young of Jamestown, who in addition to being a page designer at The (Sharon) Herald is a Civil War re-enactor who is spending the anniversary week in Gettysburg doing just that.

Andy Rooney said it best in a manner with which only he could pull off.

“During World War II I spent three years attached to the 8th Air Force in England, and I am here to tell you that not every serviceman is a hero,” Rooney once said.

“Hero” has become, without doubt, the most overused word in the American usage of the English language. In our post 9/11 world, it seems everybody is a hero: every member of the military, every policeman and emergency responder, every doctor, nurse and teacher, every volunteer who has every given up a Saturday for whatever cause, every Cub Scout, all the way down to the helper who shelves books at the library is a hero.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for all of these people, especially when it’s my house that’s on fire, and there are plenty who are worthy of the title. But is everyone a “hero?”

Not hardly. In every profession there are plenty of people who simply fill a job, and Lord knows there are screw-ups in every line of work, even journalism.

The word “hero,” therefore, must be used appropriately, reserved for those individuals who actually do something that is truly heroic. Otherwise, its meaning is cheapened.

With that said, the second day at Gettysburg produced a genuine hero.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was not a trained warrior from West Point but rather a professor of rhetoric and oratory from Bowdoin College in Maine. He took leave from his classes to join the newly formed 20th Maine Regiment and was given an officer’s commission. He would later lead it as its colonel.

He was a sensitive, bookish academic, the most unlikely of heroes. But in a desperate moment, he summoned the courage to order an extraordinary action to save something greater than himself, as all heroes do.

Text Only
Local News
Business Marquee
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks