Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Photo-a-Day - Sept 2012 - Day 11: Hero

Photo-a-Day - Sept 2012 - Day 11:  Hero

There is no photo from me today.

I've been thinking about this prompt for several days now.  Hero is a word we've come to use lightly and somewhat indiscriminately, so I started wondering what truly is a "hero."  The Oxford Concise English Dictionary defines it as "a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage or outstanding achievements."  The Chambers Dictionary--yes, I am a two dictionary person--defines it as "a man of distinguished bravery; any illustrious person, a person reverenced and idealized...".

That's all fine, but it also seems a bit trivial to me.  I feel that word should have much more gravitas, more importance.  My definition of a hero is one who is willing to put their life at risk to help others.  To quote Spock from Star Trek--and who know I'd be quoting Spock--someone whose actions exemplify that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  Or the one".

Who then are my heroes?  Particularly on this day when we commemorate September 11,  2001 and the loss of 2,606 people from 115 countries.  I saw the Twin Towers being built, I went up in them, and I cried as I watched them fall.   Our first thoughts are to the firefighters, police and transit authority employees who worked so hard to get people out of the towers and "Rick" Rescorla, the head of security for Morgan Stanley who died leading the evacuation efforts.  He sang Cornish songs to keep up the spirits of those around him while making sure they left the south tower after it was hit by one of the hijacked airliner.

Also to the 40 passengers of Flight 93 who knew with certainty they would die.  In a true reflection of "the needs of the many..." they chose to die by overpowering the hijackers, giving up their own lives in order to preserve the lives of many others.

Each war, each catastrophe, each disaster has given us heroes; the soldier who protects their buddy, or who knocks out the enemy bunker pinning his comrades down on the battlefield.  I was honored to know one such man.

Robert W. Woodward; the kind, brilliant, funny father of a past boyfriend, was also someone who had received the Distinguished Service Cross.  His citation read:

"To Captain (Field Artillery) Robert W. Woodward (ASN: 0-389219), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with a Field Artillery Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, at Normandy, France. Captain Woodward, while on the beach on D-Day, discovered an enemy casemate from which heavy fire was being delivered on the U.S. troops moving across the beach. Exposing himself fully to the view of the enemy at less than 300 yards range, Captain Woodward jumped into a tank, required it to be moved forward, and then directed its fire on this emplacement. He then left the tank and, though completely lacking cover from the intense enemy fire, proceeded through the barbed wire and up a sharp slope directly towards the fortification. Captain Woodward fired his pistol into successive casemate openings and forced surrender of 23 of the enemy. Captain Woodward's initiative, personal bravery, and daring set an inspiring example to his men and exemplifies the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States, reflecting great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army."

I'd say that qualifies.  By the way, he also invented the liquid dispensing device seen in bars everywhere and the machine that made the lenses for Polaroid cameras.

Certainly there are civilian heroes as well; those who risk their lives to save the lives of others.  In no way should their courage be minimized.

Going back in our county's history, we are a nation formed by heroes.  Every farmer, tradesman, and merchant, be they free man or slaves, white, black or Indian, who fought for this country's independence was a hero.  They faced off against the best-trained army of the time.  They risked being hung as traitors and/or being killed in battle all for an ideal; a dream of independence.  I am proud to include my ancestor among those men.

William Banker enlisted at Rhinebeck, New York on May 12, 1777, as a Private in the 4th Regiment of the New York Line under Col. Henry Livingston.  He served for three years, being discharged on May 12, 1780. A part of the time he served under Capt. Pearce and again under Col. Dubois.  He took part in the campaign against General Burgoyne and was present at the Balle of Stillwater and at the Surrender at Saratoga.

Everyone has their own definition of "hero" and everyone's definition is true and valid.  These are only a few of my heroes.  There are many more.

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