Leave it to someone in the media…to question the validity of one of America’s most widely observed holidays, Memorial Day. From its inception in 1868 in Waterloo, New York, Memorial Day has invoked strong patriotic feelings in Americans of all stripes. Initially created by the Grand Army of the Republic to honor the fallen in the Civil War, Memorial Day events honor all of America’s fallen heroes. Academics have traditionally questioned this nation’s remembrance of wars and those who fought them. The intelligentsia in America has never come to grips with the place veterans and soldiers hold in our society. Chris Hayes, of MSNBC cable network, is just the latest “intellectual” to question the presentment of ‘hero’ being applied to citizen soldiers.
“Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that’ll be happening tomorrow…I think it’s interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words “heroes.” ….why do I feel so uncomfortable [sic] about the word “hero”? I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that. ”
This is the typical academic mindset… spilling over into the vitriol of a cable news commentator (Hayes’ education hardly classifies him as an ‘academic.’) In the minds of people like Hayes, ‘Hero’ must be used in its explicit form; Only fallen soldiers with records like Alvin York can be heroes. All the patriot graves adorned with flags this Memorial Day aren’t truly heroes, for if we believe that, we obviously want to send more soldiers off to die. Hayes was careful to mask his disdain for the American military in a rhetorical interrogatory. It is well that his program appears on one of the least viewed cable networks. This type of foolishness is easy to identify and easier to forget.