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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Hero defined: An Open Letter to Mr Dreschel

he·ro noun \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
: a person who is greatly admired
: the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.

Pronunciation: /ˈhɪərəʊ
NOUN (plural heroes)
1. A person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

             “By definition, a hero is someone singled out from the rest of us by their outstanding courage.”  First of all I would say that by definition, you are wrong and that’s just going off of what two respected dictionaries say versus the agenda you are pushing in your latest attempt at journalism. You have taken a fragment of a definition and twisted it to suit the needs of your opinion on paper.  In a time when children idolize celebrities and athletes with a laundry list of substance abuse problems and criminal charges, I find it disturbing that you have deemed a single father and countryman such as Corporal Cirillo unworthy of the title.  So then, Mr. Dreschel, how can you claim that Corporal Cirillo is not a hero? Who are your heroes?

         Before and after serving overseas, I have struggled with the definition and the labeling of soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, etc. as heroes and the displays of appreciation that come with the territory.  I never accepted free coffee and I never felt quite right about shaking someone’s hand as they thanked me for my service.  I would get especially uncomfortable when a World War, Korean or Vietnam veteran would shake my hand and try to downplay their role in the conflicts fought before mine, often stating that we had it harder than they did.  Given the equipment and tactical advantages that we have had against the enemies faced over the last decade, I cannot fathom what would make these brave warfighters think that we were even close to being on their level.  Over the summer, I spoke to a D-Day survivor who brought everything into perspective for me without even trying.  As I shook HIS hand and thanked HIM for HIS service, he looked at my friends and I who had just marched from Hamilton to Parry Sound over the course of a week in memory of the 158 Canadian Forces soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan.  With eyes that welled up as he inspected us, he said, “You remind me of me and my boys.”  It all made sense to me; we were not on their level because we had stormed beaches, littered with pillboxes and tanks, they admired us as we admired them because they could relate to us on a level that most cannot relate to other human beings.  They knew the path we walked as volunteers in a time of war, as they had been faced with the same decision all those years ago.  I am no longer made uncomfortable by these type of men thanking me for my “service” because I understand better why they see us in the light that they do. I digress.

         It is because these men have done what they have done and still see us as they do that validates what my generation has done in Iraq and Afghanistan.  To say that they paid their dues for the right to determine what validates service, sacrifice, duty, honor, courage and other rare qualities is an understatement.  They have earned the right to be the judge of that, as we will for future generations.  Where were you the last decade, Mr. Dreschel?  What part of your resume allows you to determine who is a hero and who is not?  When did you last look down the barrel of a loaded firearm while guarding a monument that embodied your life’s ambitions to serve your country?  I don’t have answers to these questions but I have the answer to the next one.  When did you last piss on the memory of a young soldier in an attempt to troll hits for your lowly column?

         Corporal Nathan died while performing the duty that was assigned to him in Canada’s all volunteer army.  He put on his uniform and went to work to stand his post just days after an attack in Quebec that took the life of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injured another.  He stood guard without live ammunition, knowing that he was a target and that he was at risk of the same fate but also that his duty held importance that he so clearly felt outweighed that risk.  Since we are both just throwing around opinions, I feel that Corporal Nathan Cirillo is singled out from the rest of us by his outstanding courage.  The reason that countries like Canada do not have conscription is that there are enough brave men and women, standing ready to defend this great nation.  Mr. Dreschel, are you part of that percentage?  It seems as though the hardest part of your career most recently was not being allowed to run with your freedom of expression because it disrespected the memory of someone who volunteered to defend your right to do so.

         Even if your headline (which has since been changed but still leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many) and your claim held any water, you would be the last person most would ever listen to because as far as I can tell, the closest you have ever come to civil service is the articles you’ve written covering local elections.  Do you have children?  Do you have parents?  If you were killed while serving your country (obviously hypothetical, given your occupation and your character) would you like a newspaper delivered to their door with a similar headline?

“Cirillo's death was tragic and senseless, but in no way was it heroic.”  Trying to make your your readers believe that you think the death of Corporal Cirillo was a “tragedy” is patronizing at best.  Growing up, I was told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say not to say anything at all as most of us were; that was a lesson.  Keep in mind, I didn’t need to be told to shut my mouth if I didn’t know anything about what I was talking about.

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