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In his book, True Heroism in a World of Celebrity
Counterfeits, Dick Keyes writes that a celebrity is "one who is famous and well publicized," well known "apart from how they became known. Celebrity itself is indifferent to moral character," he adds. One can be famous "but still a thoroughly obnoxious person and menace." Keyes then contrasts celebrity with true heroism. A hero is someone who excels at something we prize and inspires us to try to emulate his achievements. But
this definition is incomplete, he says, because some of the people best at getting others to follow them have been dictators like Hitler and Stalin.
To distinguish heroes from these kinds of people, we have to include a moral dimension. We should identify as heroes, Keyes says, only those who "show qualities of moral character."
Come with me in your imagination to the battlefield of Saratoga in New York where in 1777 two battles of the Revolutionary War took place. You will notice on that battlefield an obelisk or pillar standing as a monument to what happened there. At the base are four deep niches for the bronze figures of the generals who fought there so heroically. The first contains the figure of Horatio Gates while the second contains that of Philip Schuyler. In the third niche we see the figure of Daniel Morgan, but when we come to the fourth we see something unusual.
The fourth niche is empty. This one was for a general whose performance during battle merited honor. However, he later committed an act of treason and his name became became associated with being a traitor rather than a hero. Yet at the base of that empty niche, we can see the name of this general engraved in the stone. His name is Benedict Arnold, and that niche will stand forever as a monument of one who went from heroism to treason.
In heaven a great monument is there also consisting of twelve foundations on each of which is the name of an apostle. However, on that celestial monument there is a name that is missing, the name of Judas Iscariot. Oh, the tragedy of abandoning noble purposes!
Have you ever seen the Walt Disney movie, Hercules? It’s a great movie. Zeus was the father of all the gods. That is god with a small “g.” Zeus had a son named Hercules. Hades who was the ruler of the underworld was angry with Zeus so he devised a plan to overthrow the gods and take over Mt. Olympus where they lived. He went to see a sorceress to see if there was anyone who could foil his plan. The sorceress told him that Hercules was the only one who stood between him and his goal. Hades sent two of his henchmen to steal the baby Hercules and feed him poison so that he would die. They abducted Hercules but their mission was interrupted and they did not make sure that Hercules drank all the poison. One drop was left so he didn’t die. He became a mortal but with extreme strength. Hercules was found by a human couple and raised as their own.
Many years later, Hercules was in the temple to Zeus when Zeus came to Hercules and let him know that he was his son. Zeus let him know that he could become a god again and come back to Mt. Olympus but he would have to become a true hero. So Hercules went into strict training to become a hero. After several years of training, Hercules finally got the chance to start proving his heroism. One day, the evil centaur Nessos was bugging a young lady named Megara, or Meg. Hercules took a few lumps but defeated Nessos. He went on to win numerous battles and go all over the world defeating innumerable enemies and saving many people. However, Hercules’ title of hero still eluded him, his heroism had not yet been stretched to its limits.
Finally, one day Hades unleashed his evil plan to take over Mt. Olympus but Hercules came and saved the day. In the melee, Meg, who Hercules had grown quite fond of, died. Hercules stormed through the gates of the underworld and made a deal with Hades. He said,
”You can get your revenge on my father, Zeus, by keeping me here in the underworld but you have to let Meg go.” Hades jumped at the chance but by that act of selflessness, Hercules was deemed a true hero and since gods can’t stay in the underworld, he too was allowed to go free. When Meg asked him why he did it he said, “People always do crazy things when they’re in love.”
SAVING THE SHIP, REMEMBERING THE PAST
"Their hair is gray, their shoulders are slumped and they walk with the shuffle of the aged. Their ship, a rusty antique, wallowed through the Atlantic, battered by a winter storm. For the elderly crew of LST-325, a creaking World War II troop ship that had been taken out of service in 1946, it was the last chance to recapture their youth--and to preserve their exploits for future generations. Ironically, the U.S. Coast Guard deemed the voyage from Greece to Mobile, Alabama unsafe. The same daring that lead these men to ignore deadly enemy fire lead them to ignore the Coast Guard warnings. The ship, now safe at harbor in Alabama, will be the first memorial to the heroism of the amphibious land craft crews. The crew of WWII battled ancient equipment, 110 degree heat, cockroaches, governmental regulations and the death of a crewmember to secure the old vessel and make it seaworthy. ’...
On October 8,1918 Sergeant Alvin C. York single handedly capture 132 German soldiers which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Definitely, he was a hero to be honored. In this battle he displayed courage and selflessness that is required of heroes.
Today’s society doesn’t know truly what a hero is. We found out a little bit about heroes during the World Trade Center Bombing.
But in Sergeant York’s case, the reason that he was a hero in many peoples mind was not the way he carried himself during the battle but how he lived his life.
Listen to a quote that he made in his diary of his experience in World War II,
On July 1st, 1918 he wrote:
I carried a Testament with me. I have the Testament I carried with me
during all my fighting at home now. I read it through five times during my stay in the army. I read it everywhere. I read it in dugouts, in fox holes, and on the front line. It was my rock to cling to. It and my diary. I didn’t do any cursing, no, not even in the front line. I cut all of that out long ago, at the time I was saved.
Sergeant York lived his life in Humble, Submissive, Obedience to the Lord.
A hero is someone who does much more than just an amazing thing. A hero is someone who reflects heroism in his life. A hero is someone who does heroic things because his character demands it.
On January 21, 1930, the name of Harold Vidian became synonymous with heroism. On that day, England’s King George V was scheduled to give the opening address at the London Arms Conference. The king’s message was to be sent by radio all around the world.
Donald McCullough, in his book The Trivialization of God (NavPress, 1995), tells us that a few minutes before the king was to speak, a member of the CBS staff tripped over an electrical wire and broke it, cutting off the whole American audience. With no hesitation, chief control operator Harold Vidian grasped one end of the broken wire in his right hand and the other in his left, thus restoring the circuit. Electricity surged through his body. Ignoring the pain, Vidian held on until the king had finished his address.
I see in this a challenge for Christians. The message of the King of kings must go to the whole world. But only as we allow God’s power to pass through us can the Lord’s saving gospel be transmitted. Paul wrote, "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" If we are willing to serve as conduits, regardless of the cost to us, the good news will be proclaimed around the world.
In times of war, acts of heroism were performed when men sacrificed their lives for a platoon of soldiers, or even one man, who was wounded by enemy fire!
On October 6, 1944, Lieutenant General Alexander M. Patch, Seventh Army Commander, placed the Congressional Medal of Honor on 2nd Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot of Carthage, Mississippi, in a ceremony in Epinal, France.
The reason for this great decoration of one of the military’s highest honors for heroism, was because on May 23, 1944, in the heat of battle on the beach head at Anzio, Italy, Lt. Barfoot killed 7 Germans, wounded a number of others, captured 17 more, broke up a counter attack by knocking out an enemy tank with a bazooka, demolished a German field piece, and helped two wounded soldiers to safety! A great accomplishment of heroism in the course of his duty as a soldier, for the sake of his fellow soldiers, for the sake of the war, for the sake of his country!
It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of th...
If we believe we are the product of atoms, time and chance, we will conclude as Bertrand Russell:
"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, ...."
The potential of mankind in the mind of an atheistic evolutionist is summarized in the words of this great British philosopher and logician. In short, whatever we can achieve is meaningless and will be buried under the eventual collapse of our solar system.
Private First Class Milton L. Olive III was born November 7, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois. He died on October 22, 1966, just shy of his 20th birthday in Phu Cuong, Vietnam. The citation for his Medal of Honor reads as follows:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3d Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and four other soldiers were moving through the jungle together when a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive’s extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
Milton Olive sacrificed his life, so that his four buddies could live. Army records reveal that Milton’s four fellow soldiers survived the war and returned home. His sacrifice was rare and incredible. But, his sacrifice was not unique. It is not beyond our understanding. Other soldiers have sacrificed their lives for their buddies. Soldiers are trained to watch out for each other and in the intensity of the moment, training and instinct and love take over.
Now, listen to something that does surpass our understanding.
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life. Rom. 5:10
We were God’s enemies. Jesus threw Himself on a grenade (the cross) for his ENEMIES: you and me. That is holy love. A better analogy is if one of the Viet Cong soldiers on that day in 1966 threw himself on the grenade and saved 5 American soldiers.