"Fallen Heroes" or "Dead Soldiers"?

Some people use the phrase "Fallen Heroes" to refer to US soldiers killed in Iraq. This usage is pernicious for several reasons. First, it is a lie. Not all soldiers killed in Iraq are heroes. Some surely were, but most were not. Some soldiers in Iraq die in accidents --- their vehicle goes off the road into a canal and they drown --- or an enemy explosive comes out of the sky when they are walking from one building to another and they are killed --- or their vehicle is blown up by an enemy bomb in the road. There are many un-heroic ways to die in a war. All the deaths are tragic and sad, but not everyone who dies is a hero.

Second, it debases the meaning of the word "hero". If everybody is a hero, then nobody is, because a hero is someone who does something really special, out of the ordinary. Todd Beamer and the people who joined him were heroes. Those who sat in their seats frozen with fear or just confused that day six years ago on that plane were not heroes. All their deaths were tragic and sad, but they were not all heroes. To say they were all heroes would short change those who truly were.

Third, to refer to the soldiers who died in Iraq as "fallen" instead of "dead" is sugar coating reality, trying to make things sound better than they really are. What are you saying when you say "fallen"? That they are not dead? That any minute now they will get up and walk away? To say they are merely "fallen" and not "dead" debases their sacrifice. Hey people! They are really dead, they are never going to get up again, they are never going to be seen again, heard again, hugged again by those who loved them. Don't try to hide that awful truth.

Fourth, the worst part is that it's pro war propaganda. It's a sugar coating lie trying to make war seem better and death seem less terrible than they really are. We puff them all up pretending they are all heroes when only some of them are, making war seem heroic, wonderful, and glorious, and simultaneously we downplay their sacrifice, their loss, their deaths by saying they are only "fallen". To say "Fallen Heroes" instead of "dead soldiers" is to buy into and propagate pro war propaganda. It is using our dead soldiers for political purposes, for pro war propaganda. And if people speak and think pro war propaganda instead of the truth, then wars are easier to continue and new ones are easier to start, and we will make even more dead soldiers.

Joe Rebholz

11 SEP 2007

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