"Hero,” Our New “Dirtiest Word”
by G. Duff
It is time we retired the word “hero” from the English language. We have killed it as certainly as we have murdered so many other words that have lost their meaning. The word “hero” is used, mostly by politicians and publicists but never, mind you never by soldiers.
Today, George W. Bush and Rudi Guiliani are more “heroes” for their photo sessions with soldiers or firemen than anyone who served in any war or national disaster.
No real soldier ever uses the term hero. A “hero” is someone who holds his own exploits above those of his buddies. No real soldier would ever do that. Real soldiers use the word “hero” to describe rear echelon phonies and “glory hounds.”
Real soldiers mourn their dead comrades and live for their buddies in the field or, especially, those wounded and “gone” (disappeared via medivac). Soldiers know that the word “hero” is only a tool used by cowards to try to make horse manure smell like roses.
During the last few years, we have been inundated with “heroes” from wars long past, some innocent participants and some with a considerable stench of self love and a cloak of money and lies to protect them…
My favorite of our recent group of heroes is former Kansas Senator Bob Dole, self appointed spokesperson for all veterans and, especially World War 2 vets. Dole was wounded in action a few days before the end of the war while serving with an elite combat group in Italy.
Dole has used this wound and his service to “lord it over” fellow Senators and veterans in general while spending his political life as a minor corporate “hack” and, in truth doing nothing for veterans or America in general. As a Senator, few have worse records than Dole. But, have we ever taken an honest look at Dole at war either?
Dole makes lots of claims about his service especially that he volunteered for combat in early 1942 and did everything possible to get to war like millions and millions of other Americans.
Truth is, Dole went further to avoid active service than almost any American who wasn’t jailed for draft dodging. Dole actually made it to Europe in 1945 as the war was ending after years of maneuvering.
consider reading: http://www.amazon.com/See-Naples-Die-Trooper-Mountains/dp/0786401907
When Dole failed to get a student deferment, he joined a special reserve program that allowed him to stay in college until well into 1943. Life at the University of Kansas compared favorably to life at "the front" it seems.
Dole then entered as special training program and went to Brooklyn College to study engineering until well into 1944. Life in New York seemed favorable to life at "the front" again.
He then entered OCS, graduating in November 1944 and was shipped to Italy a month later. When Dole arrived in Italy, he contacted a friend from the University of Kansas and tried to get a job running a “sports program” for troops resting up from combat. When this didn’t work out, Dole was put into a combat unit in February 1945, as the war was coming to an end.
Life in Rome would have seemed favorable to life at "the front" but luck has to run out sometime.
Dole entire combat service came to 7 weeks before being wounded seriously as the war came to an end.
With 16 year olds serving in Guadalcanal in early 42 and nearly 500,000 dead before Dole began his service, why is he the only one we remember? Could we find 5 million others who managed to find combat units a bit earlier, most years earlier, and listen to them instead?
Two famous American families sent kids to war, the Kennedy and Bush clans. Both had something important in common. Heads of both families, Joseph P. Kennedy and Prescott Bush were Nazi sympathizers. Both family heads were admirers of Hitler, with Prescott Bush openly supporting the Hitler regime in a very significant manner. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html
Despite family misgivings, Joseph Kennedy Jr, John Kennedy and George H. W. Bush joined the services early in the war. Joseph Kennedy was killed, John Kennedy of PT109 fame was seriously wounded after his PT boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer and George Bush was shot down of Chi Chi Jima, losing the crew of his Avenger aircraft as he bailed out to safety.
Both Bush and Kennedy used their military service to political ends. Both had volunteered for combat service in the Pacific, however, with Kennedy’s service much better known and considered far more heroic.
Recently, Conservative commentators have claimed that Kennedy was, in fact negligent as a commander and that claims made by his crew of heroism were fabricated. However, these attacks subsided, seemingly from lack of public interest in a target so long dead.
What American with a television can say they haven’t seen George Bush being pulled out of the Pacific by a submarine? Bush had the Navy Archives scoured for the film he used during his unsuccessful senatorial campaign in Texas and has since been part of nearly every show on WW2, with endless airings on the History Channels, Military Channel and others.
The Bush political machine worked day and night to bleed every second of exposure for their candidate but few are aware that they worked tirelessly also to hide certain facts from the public as well.
Few Americans are aware of the controversy involving the Bush “heroics” during WW2 and that accusations had been made that Bush may have panicked in combat and may not have been a hero at all.
Where were the “Swift Boat boys” then? Accusations made against John Kerry have been proven false. None of these accusations have. Is George Bush a real hero or something very different. Without a billion dollar political machine, questions are seldom asked. When you control the machine, you control the questions.
John McCain is another American hero who has used his status as former POW to enrich himself and, most sadly of all, squelch attempts to find living POW’s abandoned by the US in Southeast Asia. However, McCain, when he was still a political enemy of the Bush family, was subjected to personal humiliation with accusations of collaboration and treason, unsubstantiated and unproven.
McCain had been called “the Manchurian Candidate”, based on a fictional character brainwashed by Communists to betray America. Stories were circulated accusing McCain of collaboration and worse.
The Bush campaign in 2000 spread rumors that McCain was homosexual, had fathered children with a black prostitute and a dozen other things. Many of these crazy accusations managed to stick with the current national disaster a seeming result.
Though McCain may not have been the perfect hero, his greatest shortfall was in his unwillingness to admit that the US had lied to hide “secrets” regarding abandoned POWs.
Colonel Ted Guy, McCain’s one time commanding officer, while a POW, had issues with McCain in some areas but respected McCain as well.
Taking a look at our recent past, General George C. Marshall comes to mind. Marshall never ran for public office, though he held nearly every important post in our government and military in the last century.
Marshall, while serving in France in WWI, was responsible for planning US military operations against Germany. During WW2, he was responsible for all Allied military operations against the Axis powers and is credited by Winston Churchill as the single individual most responsible for winning the war.
It was the Marshall Plan that saved Western Europe from Communism after WW2. Few people in our history have come close to his lifetime of accomplishments. Without his personal efforts it is a reasonable guess that the world would be under Nazi or Communist domination. Few historians could disagree with this statement and almost none do.
However, during the 1952 Presidential campaign, General Eisenhower, former friend and protégé of Marshall along with the now infamous Senator Joe McCarthy, “Swift Boated” Marshall, claiming him to be both treasonous and a communist dupe.
Joseph McCarthy himself was, at one time, almost as famous as Audi Murphy. McCarthy’s war record included many combat missions, medals and wounds that later would be found to have been total fabrications. However, McCarthy used this status as “hero” to run rampant across America attacking imaginary villains and secret enemies in a manner not seen until the current administration's Patriot Acts, Rendition Programs and Secret War on Terror.
With the ability to use money and a propaganda machine to present any fool or clown as a national hero and to damn any real hero as cowardly or treasonous, our willingness to believe lies as truth and foolishness as wisdom, if packaged with enough venom and hate knows no bounds.
With the totalitarian Right controlling the economic reins, stories of Osama/Obama, Hillary/Hitlery, “Traitor” Kerry, Manchurian Candidate McCain or any other individual who stands between big money and total power, will continue unchallenged.
Only the heroes chosen by our ruling class will be able to keep us safe in our beds from the terror that “goes bump in the night”.
“Hero” once was a word to describe honor and sacrifice. It is now more a package for a lie. Who would want to be called “hero” when the word now seems to mean “draft dodger standing next to soldier in photograph.”
Gordon Duff is a Detroit native who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam and currently lives in Maumee, OH. He is a specialist on military history, international banking and is an avid chef and wine enthusiast. Gordon travels extensively and spends much of his time in Europe.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Veterans Today has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Veterans Today endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Any opinions expressed by the author(s) are not necessarily those of Veterans Today or representative of any staff member at Veterans Today.)