What Makes a True Hero?

Writing for LewRockwell.com, Charley Reese has some interesting comments on what makes a hero (and what doesn’t), especially during times of war.

The novelist Ayn Rand made an interesting point once. She said the words we use and our moral approval are a kind of currency we use to reward virtue. If we fail to withhold our moral approval from people who don’t deserve it, then in effect we make it counterfeit and thus cheat those people who do deserve it.
In other words, if you’ll smile and shake hands with any lout, bum or criminal, what good is your handshake and smile? If you’re going to call heroes people who just happen to be soldiers, police officers and firefighters, what are you going to call those individuals who do something really outstanding?
Rand said something else interesting once. She said the way to kill greatness was not to attack it, but to simply reward mediocrity. We certainly do that in our society. If you put a chimpanzee on live television 20 minutes a day, five days a week, within a fortnight it would be national celebrity. A young woman who in smarter days would have been called what she is ? a spoiled slut ? achieves worldwide fame just by videotaping herself copulating with some guy.
No nation can do great things once its people lose the ability to define greatness and to distinguish between the truly outstanding and the mediocre. That is just as important as knowing the difference between right and wrong.
I do not intend to imply that people who do the unpleasant jobs, like policing and soldiering, don’t deserve respect. They certainly do. But we should reserve the word “hero” for those who perform extraordinary and outstanding deeds.

See the full article for further elaboration.