An Uncomfortable Hero


I'm always a few days behind in watching Army Wives, aren't I?  My favorite way to watch it is to wait a few days and then go and read through the summary and all the comments about it!  Anyway, this episode reminded me so vividly of an experience I had with my husband's friend.

Remember last week when I said that I welcomed my husband's best friend home from Iraq?  His best friend was a Silver Star recipient from earlier in the year.  And starting with the Welcome Home ceremony, well-meaning people and even reporters kept mentioning his heroism.  He had no idea what to say in return.

Here's what I wrote about it at the time, which kept popping in my head whenever I saw Trevor squirm on Army Wives.  (Red 6 was our friend's call sign, which is how I referred to him.):

Red 6 wondered the other day why everyone keeps mentioning the s-word whenever they meet him. I've seen him deflect praise several times already, heaping it upon his crew and his men. He doesn't want to talk about his award, because to him it's not that big of a deal.

I told him that to civilians, medals and ribbons are very exciting. We will never understand what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can understand that "getting a medal means you did something brave." And we're in awe of bravery, because we've never been asked to do anything with our lives that merits medals.

Remember in Karate Kid II when Daniel makes that beautiful display for Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor? (I'm telling you, I can relate anything to the Karate Kid...)

Daniel: I made this for you, it's rosewood. I thought it'd be nice to show them off.Miyagi: Ah, Daniel-san. Thank you for gift. But why show off?Daniel: Well, you know, it says something about you, winning the Medal of Honor and all that. It says you're brave. I thought it'd be neat.Miyagi: (Pats Daniel's chest) This say you brave. (Pats medal) This say you lucky.

That's a pretty accurate portrayal of us dumb civilians. Obviously anyone who thinks medals should be shown off has never been awarded one. I fall squarely into that category, and I just tried to explain to Red 6 that he should keep doing what he's been doing: thanking people for noticing and sharing the glory with his men. When someone mentions the s-word, it's just because they're proud of him. We civilians have a lot of pride we want to share with the troops, it's just sometimes we don't know how.

I also mentioned Den Beste's post on heroism to Red 6; I hope he finds time to read it:

Real heroes know that decorations are only given to those who were lucky enough to be heroic while someone important was watching. Real heroes will have seen many other heroic acts which were never acknowledged by anyone, except by the other members of the team. And ultimately that is the only acknowledgement they truly value, for only their teammates really understand what they went through.

A man who brags about his heroism is no hero.

That's what his wife is for! Medals or no, my husband and Red 6 are my heroes.

I think it's hard for these guys to truly see themselves as heroes.  But that's what makes it true.  I am really glad that they portrayed Trevor this way.  And maybe people who watch Army Wives will understand a little better the next time they thank a soldier or call him a hero and he starts to shift and squirm. 

From the preview last week, I think many of us thought that Trevor had PTSD.  He doesn't.  He's just an uncomfortable hero, like all the other brave men and women serving.  I think that was a great thing to portray on the show.

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