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What Is a Hero?

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What is a hero? What action does one take to become a hero? Who are these heroes that you hear everyone talk about, but never see? The word hero is passed around too much these days. A hero is not a football player that scores the game-winning touchdown or the goaltender who saves his team from a loss. A hero is usually an ordinary person that did extraordinary things. A true hero is really never a hero at all; at least not in their own mind.

When one reads Senator John McCain’s novel Why Courage Matters, McCain tells the story of Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez. Sergeant Benavidez went on a rescue mission to save wounded brothers; he was the only man to go. Carrying only a knife and a medic bag, he ran to his wounded buddies, sustaining gunshot wounds to his leg, face and head. A helicopter landed to rescue all of the men that were stranded. Benavidez got them all on board the helicopter only for the pilot to be fatally wounded, causing the chopper to crash.

He rescued all of the men from the crash and fought off the Vietnamese Army for six hours with the help of air strikes, circling gun ships, and his own fortitude. A second chopper landed and he boarded his wounded comrades, then he got on and then collapsed. Everyone thought he was dead, placing him in a body bag. While the doctor was zipping up the bag, Benavidez spat in his face to signal he was alive. They flew him to Saigon for surgery, treating him for seven severe gunshot wounds, twenty-eight shrapnel wounds, and bayonet wounds in both arms.

When he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Ronald Reagan, Benavidez said “I don’t like to be called a hero. The real heroes are the ones who gave their lives for their country.” Such humility and modesty from Sergeant Benavidez is really representative of heroes because they never want the credit.

Heroes are not born heroes. People that fantasize of doing heroic things are never going to be heroes. True heroes are the people that do not think about being a hero; they just do what is instinctive to them and then do not bask in the glory of their actions. It surely was not Roy Benavidez’s plan to go into that combat zone to get shot; he just wanted to save his friends. He just rose to the occasion and did what he thought was right.

What truly makes a hero is the courage to say that it is not oneself that is the hero, it is someone else. In this case, Benavidez says that it was not he that was the hero; it was the faceless men who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The word hero is always heard these days. One hears the term applied to people where it is not really necessary. Does toughness and fortitude on the field of sports really constitute toughness and fortitude on the field of battle? No, it does not. A man who throws his body on a grenade so that the guys to his left and right can go home and see their children is a hero. A firefighter who disregards his own life for another’s is a hero. True heroes are the people that you do not usually hear about. They are always in the shadows and never in the spotlight and they would not have it any other way.

Art Green Writes for Conservative Eyes

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About Art Green

  • Scoota Rey

    So, I guess Superman wouldn’t be considered a hero?

  • bhw

    Superman is a *super*hero because he has super powers. He’s not a plain old hero.

  • RJ

    My image of a hero comes from the movie Volcano. That guy (I think he was a firefighter) who saw the lava approaching the subway and saw two unconscious people still inside the train. He got into the train, picked them both up, and jumped into the lava. He fell forward so that the two unconscious people would land just beyond the lava and could be carried to safety by others, while he himself burst into flames and died horribly.

    I can think of no more admirable way to leave this earth. It sure beats pissing and shitting yourself as you lie dying in some nursing home at age 90…

  • I agree with RJ above about what a hero is. It seems that a hero really has no clue that they are a hero until the moment calls to them. A moment will not call to everyone, only the hero. Example- A baby fell into a gorilla cage, a young man who was sectating there jumped right in after her, while about 30 onlookers including the babies parents stood there watching.

    That young man was a hero because the situation moved him to act. Not all situasions move everyone, but I think the hero is the one who moves at the right time for one other reason than he or she must.

  • jessica

    i agree. the word ‘hero’ is a over used term. it annoys me when i see signs for sports star reading ‘heroes’ and the media agrees. its not just celebrities that are constantly called heroes. people who suffer from serious illnesses and survive are called fighters and heroes….surely they think positive but doesn’t mean there heroes. it pisses me off so much

  • AnW

    I think that saying people that have overcome great illnesses are not heroes is going a little far

  • Paolo Maniaol

    A person who is willing to risk his/her life for the sake of other is a real hero for me..!!!

  • Chloé

    Hey just reading everyones comments and maybe some1 could help me. I have an esay to write on how Heroes and Heroies have changed over the years. Any comments would help.

  • MAE

    a hero to me…is someone that saves you to whatever situation…it doesnt have to be a big, mascular man with super human strenght…my mom,dad,sis,relatives,acquintance,or anyone could be a hero…^_^as long as ur satisfied to it!/ and you think or you feel that *that* person deserves to be called *hero*…

  • Max

    I have an essay to write and I think everyone has read the story of Jason and the Argonauts and do you think Jason was a hero and why.

  • alawi shohatee

    i agree about that people that called themself as a hero but that people had to disregard their life to other people so that poeple called a hero

  • Anna

    I think that all of you are right !

  • sophie


  • filbert

    i think wats u hv write abt hero is tru i agree with u man keep up u will be a a best teacther soon

  • goofy


  • emma

    i agree that true heroes are those who dont see themselves as heros but instead as someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
    but on the other hand, maybe the whole idea of having a hero, and idolizing someone is enough, even if it is only a sportstar or singer. because i think that having a role model and looking up to someone, thats what gives us hope. and thats what makes us strive to reach goals, with a “hero” to look up to and with hope in our hearts. we can acheive. and i just think that maybe thats enough. even if heroes dont really exist, if we idolize someone enough to draw hope from them. thats enough. who cares if they havent saved a life. they gave someone hope. and maybe that in itself makes them a hero.

  • annabel

    In a time far before our own, ‘heroes’ were recognised by their distinguished courage, ability or their brave deeds or noble qualities. Today, this is no longer the case; society now looks up to people on the basis of what a person has rather than who they are, what they can do and what they can offer to the community. What these modern day heroes have in replacement of bravery, courage and ability is money, fame, athletic talent or physical beauty. Today’s true heroes are constantly in the shadows, never in the spotlight. True heroes help someone out the kindness of their heart; they do this without searching for fame or redemption. This is the characteristic that distinguishes the real heroes in today’s society.

  • lmw

    jesus was and is a true hero in my mind because he WILLINGLY died for others so that they might live.

  • dont no

    I think a hero is a person that puts other people before themselves and they help people that could e upset from disasters and they just put an arm around someone and says its going to be ok i also think thats a hero. There are a lot of heroes today as years ago. Heroes sacrafice their lives fr other people. On the news I heard a little chinese boy saved most of his class when his school building was coming down and thats what I call a hero. My mum and dad are my heroes to how they support me and make sure I’m safe

  • sexy

    hero has a pussy

  • CHS_James-S

    Hero is a VERY overused term. People who do everyday things are technically not heroes. Heroes are ordinary people like you and me who jump into action, not as there job but as a sense of care for the world. Heroes are you and me. NOT superman or batman. Heroes are just people with enough courage to risk there life for a good cause and not a stupid stunt.

  • Jimbo

    selflessness is what makes up a real hero

  • chuck-j

    Don’t confuse hero, role model, and someone who inspires. They’re different, though there is often some overlap. I think a couple of things make a hero: 1) a sense of selflessness or thinking of others first, 2) doing something completely out of the ordinary, more than is expected, more than the person probably thought possible, and 3) opportunity combined with action. ‘Hero’ is isn’t something you are, it’s something you do in a particular moment.

    Being willing to do something heroic doesn’t make you a hero. It may make you a role model. In fact sometimes it may be that normally you aren’t willing to be a hero, but in a given moment you rise to it, unplanned and unexpected.

    Role models live and behave in exemplary ways (maybe only in part of their lives), and those who make us want to do the same are inspirations. This may or may not involve heroism.

  • carl

    the is good

  • sam_channnnnnnnnnn

    well, Spiderman and supernam and those other ppls arn’t heores after all.



  • katie haynes

    uhhh? whats a hero?

  • lola martines

    hey a hero is someone is willing to help you even if you wont say thank you or pay them.

  • Shukri

    Polices are heroes and mothers, because a mom will risk her life for her child!!!!!!!

  • Kat

    A hero is anyone whos priority is help others and offer their hand to those who need a any time.
    My boyfriend is a hero too lolz

  • rtyrety

    A hero is a person with good gualities

  • fdtg

    u are4 not a hero loser

  • fdtg

    tara is hot

  • helen 4rm nigeria

    a hero is someone that is ready to lay down his life for another person,so that ,that person will live to be a happy n comfortale humanbeing,thankyou n i love you all.

  • akabunwa helen 4rm nigeria

    a hero is an extraordinary human that is ready to lay down his life for another person,so that,that person will be a comfortable humanbeing n live a normal life,thank you, n, i love you all.

  • nick

    i belive people who want to be heroes are not destind to become zeroes, i truly wished to be a hero and i got that wish some may not acknoladge it but other heroes do and are comforted by the fact they helped save someone, because in my mind everyone, deserves a second chance, i know that may be going a little far but whos to say a murderer who saved someones life is not a hero? i do not mean to brag or gloat but i am proud to be called a hero because 1 and 1 half years ago i was walking to my friends house to get stoned and drunk(both verybad things and i am in no way a good person in anyway shape or form)
    i saw a little girl about 12 to 15 yrs old listening to her head phones not payin attention to anyone, i didnt realize she was crossing the train tracks untill i heard the horn blow, as soon as i heard that horn blow everything went blank…………. a woman who saw both of us walking said that right before the horn blew i looked up and started running, she thought i was going to try to commit suicide but i guess i pushed the girl out of the way, and took the hit, when i finally realized what i was doing i was hung up on a fence with half of my leg ripped off and my hands severly injured, i managed to pull my slef off of the fence some how and i looked up and through every passing car i could see the little girl………..she was not moving, then as the train stopped i managed to see her move an are and then get up, she suffered a broken arm but was able to walk away from the accident, which i could not ask for anything else. the point im trying to make is who is anyone to say they would not risk there lives for anyone else, is there life not as important in there mind as it is in yours? i belive that all life must be preserved at any cost, which might be why i acted but know this i did not think of what i was doing it was like i was watching myself from afar, but i knew what was happening. i hope everyone is safe for the new year and amanda q watch out tomorrow, something bad might happen

  • devin

    that was a great thing you wroe about heros

  • aliyah

    a hero is some one who is helpful, indepent, and very much aleader

  • I don’t think this discussion is going anywhere. Besides, we live in an age of anti-heroes.

    Perhaps another topic would be more fruitful.

  • Cindy

    A hero is anyone who can put up with most of this stuff, without climbing out on a ledge.

  • A sane person, in other words.

  • Cindy


    A hero is anyone who can put up with most of this stuff, (yet sees its implications) but refrains from climbing out on a ledge.

  • Cindy


    Yes, the only truly sane people…in my limited, biased estimation.

  • Still – an antithesis to “The Myth of Sisyphus” in Camus. He/she is a sufferer, not a true believer, like Prometheus perhaps.

  • Cindy

    Yeah, well, having your liver eaten is six of one and half a dozen of the other against having to roll a boulder uphill eternally. lol

    Which maybe means, whichever you see yourself as…if you can refrain from heading for the ledge.

  • Orpheus and Eurydice is my idea of heaven. A denizen of no place, a citizen of all.

  • Cindy


    You were married?

  • thrice

  • Cindy

    I sent you a message.

  • I got it. Food for thought.

  • Cindy

    You can reply. I take back that not talking privately thing.

    You know, I am so changeable due to my genetic make-up. Prerogatives and all… 🙂

  • I don’t worry about small shit.

  • Cindy


  • anyonmous i dont no how to spell it

    hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hello hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hello hello hi hi bye bye bye peace to you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • me and u do it tonight???

    runescape rules!!!!!!!!!! you rule O((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((if u play it))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))(((())))))))()()()()()()()

  • Hope and Change?

    It looks like this thread has turned into one of those “Get Laid Tonight” message boards…

  • Is that what drew you here?

  • vic

    well even though you probable wont care what i say i think a hero is a person who is willing to risk his/her life for someone else knowing that that wont get paid or you wont say thank you. my hero is

  • tom tom

    FYI vic, obama’s getting paid.

  • MULL


    HS4L brothers.

  • Zodia

    i think a hero is a person willing to help or care for someone and eats mud pies and shits them selves

  • Zodia

    i think a hero is a person willing to help or care for someone and eats mud pies and shits them selves

  • ashantae

    is a hero some body who saves the world

  • nn

    I don’t agree with the comment about soldiers risking their lives for us being heroes. just because you sign on the dotted line doesn’t mean that you’re a hero. that’s just another reason the word is thrown around all too often.
    i know plenty of people that signed up for the military because its their only option. they failed at school so they gave up and enlisted. Sure they can be a hero if the opportunity arises, but until that happens they should not be deemed a hero.



    At least those who sign on the dotted line (regardless of their motives) have done more than those who have not (choosing instead to let someone else fight their battles), eg; Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Sean Hannity, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Bennett, Bill O’Reilly, Dick Armey, et al.

  • nn

    What i was saying is that someone doing absolutely nothing heroic (enlisting) does not deserve to be called a hero. It lessens the value of the word.

  • Anony Moose

    What makes signing up to kill people heroic? Sounds like something a dupe would do.

  • wenda

    yo was up man his yo girl wenda..well i think that i love heroes cause they save people and they risks their lives so yeah….

  • brenda

    yo wat it do… so well i think that i love my self…you know what im sayin…jajaja
    so yeah see my homegirl wenda is being right about what she saying…so yeah go and be a mothe son of a bieatch heroe…..

  • me

    im doing heros in class and i think a hero is someone that risks thier own life to protect someone or something else. even if they dont succeed, they tried and even if the other person survives and they die, that shows that a hero is truly selfless

  • Andy

    Spiderman is my favorite hero because
    he was a player…………..

  • Andey

    Dwayne wade is a hero
    because he’s amazing

  • Sky

    I have to alk about a hero in class and I think I will just die because how can we say if someone is a hero? All the people i know when asked who their hero is will say an author or artist or somebody who inspires them. But if that is wrong, which it probably is, why are we all wrong? Is it the media? Is it society? And if a hero is humble and does not beleive that they are a hero, then what do they do if someone tells them that they are one? Is one trait of a hero to be stubborn? Actually, a lot of prople would have us believe that. Does a hero even need particular traits? I feel sick when I think of heroes, which is really quite sad because how shallow must I be?

    And that is why I am so emo, listening to Coldplay and being mad.

  • abc

    the word “Hero” is overused in medias and most don’t even know what a true is. for example, in the news, this boy was drowning in a lake when his father had saved him. he was called a “hero”…….wtf???? isn’t that what a father’s job to do????


  • hope

    A selfless hero, anyone can be a hero in someone eyes. A hero puts others before themselves. They may end up giving up their life or just stand up for a kid being bullied. People battling cancer and sickness can also be heros. look at Terry Fox he is a hero in many people eyes. He took a bad situation and turned it around. He put the needs of 100s of people in front of his own. I some ways the wod hero has been used too much but everyone in some way is a hero to someone. Role-models can also be heros or just some one you loook up to. I want to ask you this who are your heros and what makes them a hero to you?

  • lmao

    a true hero is a killing machine

  • lol

    Alex is awesome

  • Blah.

    This is so deep.
    Made me cry.
    This is what a true hero definetly is.

  • p.r baby

    diz iz so deep…its gud…i mean i thought a hero is someone who does something for you…& dis person tell dat a hero doesnt hav to be some 1 lik dat…it doesnt hav it 2 b some 1 famous!….i guess a true hero is some 1 who does what they hav 2 do or something or someone!

  • Christopher B.D.

    The writer, in addition to his lack of style, provides a very limited definition of a hero. Not only are all of the heroes mentioned male, but they are all men whose risk-taking is a predictable part of their occupation. The writer even assumes that all fire fighters are male. I just thought I’d point out the limited scope of the piece. While fire fighters and soldiers certainly are heroic and admirable, I find idealists and social activists, such as Dr. King, to be among my heroes as well, in addition to those who have challenging, dangerous situations thrust upon them unexpectedly and rise to the occasion.

  • noah

    heroes in my book are people who sacrifice whether its their time or its their life. they never give up even though it almost seems imposible to win. they strive and keep pressing forward until they’ve won and there goal is reached and victory has been grasped

  • Lady Gaga

    what do you consider a hero besides spiderman, superman, batman etc…

  • Lucyannleigh

    I think that a hero is, the opposite of a villan.

  • Colbymariemoore

    I LOVE HER ^^^^^^^

  • Tilleyanntinker

    i loves lucyannleigh ?




    i think being a hero…is consisted as a promise,,,,,

  • Braulio

    this page is interesant!


  • Bruce

    A hero is a person which does any selfless act which helps others. That being said, the most likely hero’s would be animals such as dogs that will go into extreme danger to help or save others. Honestly how many people do you know that would do that?

  • earl

    so this means im a hero

  • Kevin


  • @AnW: “I think that saying people that have overcome great illnesses are not heroes is going a little far”

    I know some such people who would disagree with you (and agree with jessica). Click on my name for an example.

    After reading it, you may think something like “that’s just the sort of thing a true hero would say!” but note that she is actually agreeing with jessica that the media should not hold sick people up to that kind of scrutiny. It indicates that “hero” is being misused to paint humans as mythical figures. And that’s exactly what this article is trying to say: heroes are distinguished by just achieving their very human potential in a situation where they can make themselves very useful, not by any special superhuman nature.

  • bill shipley

    Someone who does what they are trained to do are just doing their jobs. Heros appear from nowhere and react, then disappear not seeking adoration.

  • tion

    leanne is a hero

  • leanne

    inittt im sickkk

  • ioio

    ahero is someonewho will risk their life to save someone elses

  • smiley

    hey i think this is true, Hero’s aren’t people with superpowers, but ordinary people that do wonderful things for other poeplez

  • just me :)

    For me, a hero is not just about doing extraordinary things. But it is doing things in your own little way to help a neighbor in need…without expecting something in return.

    Because we never know…
    that simple act of help have already made a great impact in their lives without your knowing.
    Then they will be the one to judge your heroic act, though how little it may be.

    That is a hero – it lies in you.

    God bless us all. 🙂

  • chris

    geeze, no wonder no one knows what a hero is, super man and spiderman arent real, how can they by in a hero discussion? what a hero is not:

    1. a fireman doing his job he is paid and was trained for;
    2. a policeman doing his job he is paid and trained for;
    3. a pilot that saves himself and therefor his passengers;
    4. someone who gives someone else the hymlick (sp) when someone is choking;
    5. anyone who saves his own life through whatever action;
    6 anyone who saves a loved one of family member (that is expected);
    7. lastly, 99% of those people referred to as hero’s are not hero’s.

  • Ton Nu

    ah yes american, 50 years from when you invaded my country, you sit around and call each other heroes. I guess it’s true that in this world, the truth doesn’t matter, perception does.

  • Hatsune

    well i think a hero is more responsible to others and they be polite no matter what the case is like a silly case help to open a jar hero’s still do it they wont fight unless its a bad guy duh

  • Luly

    This is amazing, thank you