I usually post about romantic fiction, Regency England, love, or if you follow me on Facebook, the impossibly hot Ross Poldark, from the new PBS series on Sunday nights. In a perfect world, none of us would descend into the fractious world of politics. But a recent news story has had me thinking about what it means to be a hero (that wonderful characteristic we treasure in every male protagonist in the romance genre.) In short, I’ve learned what a hero does not do or say. This is for you, Mr, Trump.
I’m a writer. In others words, I make stuff up on a daily basis. So we have more in common than you might think.
But there are differences. I write historical fiction, not revisionist history. Broadly defined, that’s a distortion of the historical record to suit one’s own interests and ambitions. Like what you’ve done to John McCain.
As in… John McCain is not a war hero.
And you know what? You might be on to something. So he got shot down over Hanoi on his twenty-third bombing mission. So he was captured by the North Vietnamese and viciously tortured. Who cares that after a year of said torture, he refused the offer of an early release, because it meant leaving behind fellow prisoners who’d been there longer? The dumb looby bought himself an extra four and a half years as a POW with that mistake. And he carries the physical consequences of that decision to this day.
If McCain was a real war hero, like Rambo, he’d never have allowed himself to be caught. After falling from the sky in a heap of flaming metal, he’d have sprinted through the North Vietnamese woods like a wild cheetah on the hunt, eluding capture until he could exact his revenge.
I like the way you’ve redefined the word “hero.” It’s so much simpler now. You’re not a hero unless you escape from the enemy. Unless you emerge unscathed. Unless you live.
It should be the bar by which we measure heroes going forward.
Those guys who stormed the beaches at D-Day but didn’t to live to tell the tale, they’re off the list.
Those soldiers who braved enemy fire to save a fallen comrade, but died for their efforts, they’re off the list too.
And how about those idiots who threw themselves on a grenade to protect the solders around them? Need I say strike three?
All of those soldiers who bled out on the battlefields of history had the wrong of it.
The better choice, by far, would have been to get a medical deferment so they didn’t have to go to war in the first place.
Thanks so much for clarifying things.