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We need a new word for our true heroes

It seems that we have come to overuse and trivialize a word that was once reserved for only great acts of valor. A person who performs a common act of decency for a neighbor is now referred to as a hero. Unfortunately, acts such as these used to be the rule and not the exception. An athlete who catches the winning touchdown pass is a hero, although he is most likely well compensated for his act with a million-dollar contract. Many did not ask for this title or want it, but we gave it to them. It is now theirs; they own it.

Now we have the young teacher who, trying to protect 20 precious young children, goes toe-to-toe with a crazed gunman, probably knowing full well that she is about to be slaughtered for her effort. The firefighters who got up before dawn on Christmas Eve to go to save the property and possibly the lives of complete strangers, only to be assassinated by a cowardly animal hiding across the street. And the now all-too-often soldier who comes home in a box or the sometimes forgotten men and women who return physically and or emotionally scarred for life while protecting our freedom.

What do we call these people? We need a new word. A word that will only be bestowed upon these selfless and courageous individuals who are willing to sacrifice their own precious lives to protect others.

This word must then be held sacred by all, especially the media, and be given only to those who have met these extraordinary standards. To continue to refer to these people as simply heroes after what we have done to this word, seems almost insulting. We really need a new word.

Mark Blankenberg

Williamsville