What Makes a Hero? Part 2 or 2

In Conclusion, I think there are heroes around us every day. We just don’t notice them because they don’t fit the average definition of a hero.

The Oxford Dictionary says a hero is “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: [for example] a war hero.

The Urban Dictionary offers seven definitions and some may surprise you. Here are three of them:

2. A hero is someone who gets a lot of OTHER people killed.

3. Someone who helps without anything expected return. Their gesture may be big or small, profound or not, it doesn’t make im’ any less of a hero.

6. A man or woman willing to sacrifice themselves to help others without the consideration of their own safety.

I think the policeman who risks his life to save others; the fire fighter who runs into a burning building to save another person; the soldier who risks life and limb to save his fellow buddies in combat are the easy heroes to identify.

But I’m not talking about these heroes.  I’m talking about the mothers and fathers who get up and go to jobs that may not pay much, are tedious, boring but do it anyway because that’s what it takes to put food on the table and pay the rent. And I’m talking about the mothers and fathers who—no matter how tired they are after a long day at work—are involved in their child’s life; know what that child is doing at school; supports the teachers and spends quality time every day in meaningful conversation with his or her child. That might mean turning the TV off and hiding the iPod, and video games and smartphones.

A hero might be a homeless person who finds a wallet/purse with thousands of dollars in it and returns it to the owner without taking a cent. When honesty is carried to that extreme, isn’t that also an example of heroism?

I think some heroes are individuals who stand up in public and dare to speak out against popular, political correctness [I’m not talking about uneducated opinions] knowing they may face harsh criticism from political/religious groups that disagree with them. Instead, he or she stands firm on his or her beliefs and refuses to be bullied—as long as he or she is not acting out of ignorance and/racism and knows what he or she is talking about.

An example of this type of hero would be Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student who was shot in the head by the Taliban after speaking out for education rights for girls, because every country; every culture has its own brand of political/religious correctness, but that doesn’t mean it is right.

What do you think it takes to be a hero?

Return to or start with What Makes a Hero? Part 1


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.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest superhero of them all?

Smithsonian.com published The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories by Robin Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says, “As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.”

Rosenberg says, “I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.”

1. trauma

2. a life altering force is destiny

3. sheer chance

“At their best,” Rosenberg says, “superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.”

Reading Rosenberg’s piece in Smithsonian after watching “To Whom it May Concern, Ka Shen’s Journey” the previous night helped me understand his explanation. Ke Shen’s Journey was a documentary on the life of Nancy Kwan.

You may remember Kwan in “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960), or “Flower Drum Song” (1961). And in 1961, she won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in film.

In fact, Kwan’s father was a hero. During World War II, he was a spy for the British and when the Japanese discovered what he was doing, he took his two, infant children and fled Hong Kong disguised as a Chinese peasant. Another Chinese spy working for the British in Hong Kong wasn’t so fortunate. He was caught and beheaded by the Japanese.

For Kwon, her life altering experience was the loss of her only child, a son from her first marriage. Bernie died at age 33 in 1996. He contracted AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid.

Bernie had unprotected sex with the girl he loved. He didn’t use a condom. The girlfriend died of AIDS first and Bernie stayed by her side and cared for her to the end. Eventually, when the virus threatened his life, he moved home so his mother and stepfather could care for him, and they watched the son they both loved die slowly over a period of three years as he wasted away.

Today, almost age 75, Nancy Kwan actively supports the study of AIDS and the promotion of AIDS awareness.

I think Rosenberg is right, because I’m convinced that what he explains is one reason why I joined the U.S. Marines and later became a classroom teacher in a barrio high school populated by violent street gangs. I made a choice. We all make choices, but why do we make such choices?

For me it wasn’t trauma—at least I don’t think so—that motivated me to join the U.S. Marines. I think it was the role models I saw in Hollywood films. For example, John Wayne’s movies. By the time I joined the Marines in 1964, John Wayne had been in 158 films. A few that stick in my head are: The Fighting Seabees; Back to Bataan; They were Expendable; Fort Apache; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Sands of Iwo Jima; The Horse Soldiers; The Alamo, and The Longest Day, etc.

Of course, no film compares to the reality of combat and coming home from war with PTSD and/or recovering from a severe combat wound. Those factors are also a life altering force.

It seems to me that there are a lot of people in America that are not inspired to be a hero or altruistic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that 8.1% of the U.S. population are veterans. In addition, the NY Times reported that less than 1% of the American population is serving in the active military.  What does that tell us about the rest of America—not counting the physically and mentally disabled, police, teachers and firefighters?

Discover John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and WMD


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”