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What is a Hero - Essay Example

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Since the days of the ancient Greece, there have been instances where men and women who showed extraordinary courage and adversity were in fact considered to be a demigod which means half human half god. The reason for such patronizing was that they believed the bravery and the…
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What is a Hero? What is a Hero? Since the days of the ancient Greece, there have been instances where men and women who showed extraordinary courage and adversity were in fact considered to be a demigod which means half human half god. The reason for such patronizing was that they believed the bravery and the selflessness these “heroes” showed was not only exceptional but also something that normal or average people cannot replicate (Franco et al 2011). The Standard definition of a hero according to Merriam Webster Dictionary is an individual of mythological and legendary status that is of divine progeny bestowed with exceeding capabilities of power and ability. But a question arises that whether this definition can be used in modern times where heroes are ordinary people that in time of crisis and need perform exceptionally and for the greater good. The meaning of the word hero has changed over the years and this word has been used in different contexts.
One act of heroism represents a new definition of a hero. Whenever a hero is pictured, a strong, powerful individual is imagined who is not only experienced but also mature. But when Carlos, a seven year old boy’s home was invaded by burglars, not only did he show nerves of steel but also called the police and urged them to send help. Hiding in the bathroom with his sister, Carlos told the police everything that was happening in their house and explained the situation with poise and calmness that many adults fail to show in these circumstances. Even though the suspects have not been caught yet, but Carlos will be awarded the Kids Medal of Honor and he has been labeled as a hero. Though Carlos was a young boy and did not fulfill the image of a hero but his act of bravery serves to imply the use of the word hero for him (Fremd & Seigel 2010).
One of the most deadly terrorist attacks that took place in today’s world was no doubt the World Trade Center attack. These attacks not only left thousands of citizens dead but also witnessed many acts of courage and bravery by the New York Fire Department and the policemen who even though were put on alert since the building could collapse anytime but still continued with the rescue efforts. These men and women showed strength and bravery while knowing completely well that they would not survive if the building that was already on the verge of collapse, fell down. This is again an example of heroism and these people who worked selflessly were marked as heroes. Thus a hero may be defined as an individual who works for helping people without searching for his personal benefit and without caring for the consequences (Kapp et al 2011).
When the word hero is defined, there is always a debate about what is the status of the terrorists who on one hand are not only branded criminals but are also termed as enemies of humanity and glorified by the media as ruthless killers. The very same people who are said to be terrorists are also known to be freedom fighters and they themselves believe that they are on a higher mission of bringing salvation to their countrymen from either invading forces or from an oppressing government. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist and thus one man’s hero is a terrorist for the other one. This meaning of the word hero leads to questions and makes the understanding of this word complicated as the word cannot be used only for specific kind of people. This word is used by different groups for different people. (Franco et al 2011).
In summation, after stating the definition illustrating it with various examples it can be safely said that the new definition of heroes can be of people who perform what is necessary when it is deemed impossible and endanger not only their lives but also bring about the issue of social sacrifice. A hero does not need to fulfill any particular image and the definition of the word has changed from previous times.

Franco, Z. E., Blau, K., & Zimbardo, P. G. (June 01, 2011). Heroism: A conceptual analysis and differentiation between heroic action and altruism. Review of General Psychology, 15, 2, 99-113.
Fremd, M. V. & Seigal, H. (2010, March 11). “7-Year-Old 911 Hero an Example for all Families”. ABC News. Retrieved from:
Ganor, B. (January 01, 2002). Defining Terrorism: Is One Mans Terrorist another Mans Freedom Fighter?. Police Practice and Research, 3, 4, 287-304.
Kapp, T., Rizzi, N., Nelson, K., Weichselbaum, S. & Mcshane, S. (2011, September 11). “9/11 remembered: Firefighters pay tribute to fallen FDNY across the city on tenth anniversary.” NYDailyNews. Retrieved from:
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.) Hero. Retrieved from: Read More
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