Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Too Often, Our "Heroes" Aren't Heroes

Mike Jones is a man to be admired and praised. He did his job very well and with the highest professional standards. But Mike Jones is not a hero.

Mike Jones is the security chief for the Bay District School System in Panama City, Florida, and last week he carried out his assigned duties by responding quickly to an emergency and putting himself in harm’s way. In other words, Mike did what he was trained, hired, and paid to do.

I am not diminishing his actions one bit. I want Mike Jones on my side in an emergency, just like I want Captain Sully Sullenberger at the controls of any airliner I’m aboard. Because I know Sully, like Mike Jones, will handle an emergency the way he is trained, hired, and paid to do.

Neither Mike Jones nor Captain Sullenberger will acknowledge that they’re heroes. Because, dammit, they’re not. Our media has so destroyed the meaning of the word that at least three national news networks, a few months ago, called the passengers stranded on a disabled cruise ship for a few days “heroes.”

Heroes aren’t that easy to come by. And, probably it’s because it’s just the way they’re put together, when ordinary folks do extraordinary things and put themselves at great risk to help someone else, they almost always say they’re not a hero, and are doing what anybody else would do in the situation. Most of them are quite modest.

Who was the “hero” in the Panama City school board shooting? School Board member Ginger Littleton.

After the gunman let her and the other women on the board leave, she could have done nothing but thank her lucky stars and prayed that Mike Jones got there in time to save some lives. But she did what she was NOT trained, hired, nor paid to do. She put her own life in mortal risk by sneaking up behind the gunman and trying to disarm him by slamming her purse against his gun-holding hand.

As usual, the media got it wrong. She’s the real hero here.


  1. I completely agree with you, Tim. We should celebrate the competence and skill of men like Mike Jones and "Sully" Sullenberger, as well as their cool heads in a crisis, but society should not consider it heroic to do one's job as one was trained to do. It sends the message that slacking off or screwing up on the job is the default expectation in our society.