I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer, because my wife was on the panel that discussed this topic in Washington D.C. during the Daily Beast’s 2nd annual Hero Summit held on October 10, 2013. I also have an opinion on what makes a hero and will share my thinking in the conclusion of this post that will appear November 12, 2013.
This closing discussion of the Daily Beasts 2nd annual Hero Summit examined many aspects of courage—physical, moral, political, even intellectual. Note: I suggest you click on the previous link, scroll down and read the comments.
The panelists included General John Allen, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.). Allen quoted Lord Moran from memory: “If you know a man of character in peace, you will know a man of courage in war.” Heroism is about those people who are “willing to sacrifice everything, everything for the principles they hold most dear,” said Allen.
Allen clearly was thinking of the men and women—his soldiers—still in the field. “Less than one percent of the population is involved in the defense of this nation,” said Allen. They fight, they risk their lives every day and often in corners of the world that the rest of the United States has forgotten.
“We fail to talk about the routine heroism,” said Allen. Those soldiers—that professional military—is made up of people “who truly are keeping the wolf from the door.”
The second panelist was David Brooks, a New York Times columnist. Brooks talked about “the heroism of everyday life,” and especially the need to confront oneself, to battle against your own sin and weakness.
The third panelist was Anchee Min, my wife. “The home front is the real battle,” said the author of The Cooked Seed and Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Courage, in her life, included standing up to her very American daughter, enlisting her when she was young in the work of survival—buying her tools and a book about plumbing on her birthday—and driving her to earn good grades.
The fourth panelist was Wole Soyinka—Professor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria—who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He spoke of his admiration of all those young people, especially those young women, who are fighting for an education against horrendous odds in places like Nigeria, Somalia, Mali and elsewhere.
The moderator of the panel was Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor of The Washington Post; author of Little America: The War Within The War For Afghanistan
Continued on November 12, 2013 in What Makes a Hero? Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.
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