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Think you have a tough job?

December 29, 2006

What have I done lately that made a difference to anybody?  Compared to these guys, not a damn thing:

It is near midnight when we arrive on the scene, circling while the pilots inspect what’s below. Humvee headlights carve out a landing zone on an empty road. Soldiers aim their weapons into the blackness beyond, watching for an ambush. We bump down in a cloud of hot dust. The injured man has been laid on a litter and stripped to the waist. Four or five of his comrades run the litter to the helicopter and clumsily, frantically, shove him inside. He has no pulse. Mitchell begins CPR. The helo lifts off for Baghdad.

The soldier is perhaps 20. He is lanky, with knobby shoulders—a boy’s shoulders. Green cabin lights wash across his chest, his right arm flops off the litter. Mitchell moves like a piston above him. “Come on, buddy,” he says. “COME ON, BUDDY.” Sweat pours off him in long beads. Even with the windows open, the helo racing 200 feet (60 meters) above the ground, it is well over a hundred degrees (38°C). The heat, the weight of his body armor, and the frantic pace drain him. He’s exhausted, losing effectiveness. After ten minutes, crew chief Erik Burns makes Mitchell get out of the way. Then Burns waves me in, a fresh set of arms…
- National Geographic: The Heroes, The Healing; military medicine from the front lines to the home front

In the print edition are some illustrations that are difficult to look at.  Go read the whole incredible story.  Next time someone refers to an athlete or movie star as a “hero”…

  1. December 30, 2006 at 19:10 | #1

    You are correct that the ones that fight and die at the will of our country, for our freedom and the freedoms of others are certainly heroic. But this does not mean others cannot be heros as well. Can a teacher be a hero? Can an actor be a hero? What about a parent? Or a parental-figure?

    You’re right that the general perception of what defines a hero is downright awful, but a blanket statement concerning the occupations of heros is not warranted here.

  2. December 30, 2006 at 19:28 | #2

    Of course like most words “heroism” has more than one meaning; I’m using the very common “facing danger” meaning here.  Certainly an athlete can overcome personal limitations and a teacher may do tremendous good in society, either of which may fit under secondary definitions.

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