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] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- 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.Hayes is one of the smartest, nuanced, and thoughtful commentators on the airwaves, which likely means his on-air career will be a short one in this awful era. His Memorial Day message was somewhat inartful, given that it seemed he was working out his own feelings on the fly, and the timing poor, but I didn't find the commentary particularly offensive. Still, he was compelled by the furor to apologize - in a manner both measured and appropriate.
There are any number of heroic acts committed by the impossibly brave, scared, stubborn, and proud men and women who fight our wars (like this dude - total badass). But blanket labels of 'hero' do disservice to true heroism. Almost to a man and woman, American soldiers are dedicated, patriotic, and professional. Their service should be celebrated. But 'hero' is lazy shorthand co-opted by too many on both sides of political arguments to avoid real, hard conversations.
My Dad is buried in a field of honor, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other men and women who did their jobs every day. He was a hero to me and my sister, but he'd be pissed if you called him that. He just did his part, and like thousands of dedicated american military personnel, he never saw combat first-hand.
In the heated rhetoric of our age, Chris Hayes is some kind of week-kneed America-hating proto-liberal. It says more than enough about our current society that we can't deal with the substance of his statement rationally. Hayes' show this weekend will also deal with the military/civilian divide - I hope people will watch and actually listen with open minds. But I'm not counting on it.