Sunday, July 19, 2009

No more heroes

I grew up surrounded by men who'd fought in either the First or the Second War. Some must have served in both. None of them talked about it much, partly because they had the traditional ambivalence of old soldiers and also presumably because they didn't wish to appear to be taking the limelight of somebody more worthy. Old combatants rarely show off about it. If anything they're slightly embarrassed to have survived. At his death at the age of 113 First World War veteran Henry Allingham was widely referred to as a hero. I'm sure he would have been appalled to be called any such thing. It seems that the less experience of military service anyone in the media has the more ready they are to dust off the h-word for anyone who's done what they would have modestly called their duty.


  1. Developing that theme... Twice this morning misuse of the H word has rattled my cage. A poster for Sky TV has Anthony Hopkins announcing that "heroes like Bogart" deserve HD. And the front page of the Times has: "Sometimes a even a hero has to come second", referring to Tom Watson. Exhibit A: Bogart was if anything an anti-hero, but actually he was just an actor. And B)... oh what's the point?

  2. I suppose we have to accept that the word hero has taken on a new meaning in the media and in films, now being used to refer to 'the good guy/star'. And thanks to irony, 'heroic' now often means foolhardy and pointless.
    So what do we call those who face danger and show courage against the odds? Martyrs?

  3. I noticed the 'Bogart Hero' connection too. It struck me as inappropriate.

    And yes, just what do we call a genuine hero?

    There is a tendency to overuse superlatives isn't there.

    Words like awesome and fantastic get bandied about with gay abandon.

    'Nice' will soon be an insult; if it is't already.

  4. Anonymous1:04 pm

    Couldn't agree more David