Many times in our lives, we are the daunting question: “Who is your hero?” Sometimes we answer with people who aren’t known to the entire world, like our parents. Other times, it’s the people who impacted many other people, like Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. But, what makes a hero a hero? Are we giving this title to too many people?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines hero as “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.” By this definition, a hero could be anyone. “Fine qualities” is relatively broad; some people could justifiably say that an infamous con-artist is their hero.
There are many different kinds of awards given to “heroes.” Being called a hero still has a nice sound to it, but it doesn’t pack as much meaning as it should. Sure, parents are our heroes for various reasons, but what about the men and women who go even farther to protect you? Active-duty soldiers, veterans, and wounded soldiers are often described as heroic as they should be. Leaders who fought peacefully for equal rights, like Martin Luther King Jr., are also given this title. All these people went to greater lengths, risked more, and fought harder for the title than some people we call heroes.
Much like soldiers, there are some other heroes that come to be by saving others in times of peril. In France, on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, three friends who were on vacation along with the help of two others (a French national and Briton) tackled a gunman on a train, which helped avoid a massacre. These five people, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Chris Norman, Spencer Stone, and Mark Moogalian, are now considered heroes by government officials. These are the kind of people we should be deem as heroes.
Going back to the definition of a hero, it should be something more along the lines of “a man or woman who sacrifices his/her safety for others.” This definition is still open to interpretation, but it allows fewer and more worthy people to be considered as heroes. The people who relinquish their own safety for others to benefit are the ones who are worthy of the title “hero.”