Hero: A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Dictionary.com
Robert LeDoux is an honest to goodness “hero,” though he says he is not.
Just last week, as a Louisiana state trooper lay bleeding on the ground after being shot by a man he tried to help, LeDoux approached the gunman and tackled him. Then, with the help of others, immobilized him, and used the trooper’s radio to call for help.
By any definition, LeDoux is a hero.
These days, the word “hero” is tossed around like chips in a poker game. A real hero isn’t Peyton Manning, despite his athletic ability. An actor recently described film director Steven Spielberg as his “hero.” Now, Spielberg is a creative genius in film, but a hero?
Here are some real “heroes.”
— South Dakota Highway Patrolman John Koenig, who braved withering fire during a gunfight near Kimball. Gov. Dennis Daugaard personally thanked Koenig for his bravery.
— Joe Foss, and not just because he shot down more planes than any other Marine pilot during World War II, but because he was awarded the Medal of Honor, bestowed only on those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
— The Moos brothers, from Fairfax, who last week helped law enforcement apprehend two suspects in a car chase. The deputy sheriff described the men as “heroes.”
The list goes on.
And what about Todd Beamer? He was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked on Sept. 11 in 2001. No martial arts expert, Beamer sold computer software for a living. Nevertheless, he led the effort to take back the plane from terrorists. His last recorded words were: “Let’s roll.” He and others succeeded in taking the plane down in Pennsylvania and averting the terrorist target of the White House or nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C.
There are other “heroes,” of course. A loved one battling a terminal illness can show great courage and set a heroic example.
Still, I would not use the word to define the many wonderful teachers I experienced over the years. And, a firefighter may become a hero if he rescues a person from a burning building. A policeman serves and protects, but only if he is called on to display courage under fire does he become a hero.
When everyone is labeled a “hero,” no one is.
Sept. 2, 2015