Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Welcome Home, Jessica!

Like most people, I do rejoice at the homecoming of former prisoner of invasion Jessica Lynch. After months of medical treatment, she returned to her family and friends in West Virginia today, and that is wonderful news that merits a rousing "hot damn!"

One thing concerns me, though. What makes this young woman a hero? Jessica Lynch was a 19-year-old just out of high school who signed up for the killing squad. She ended up in Iraq, riding in a Humvee that was part of an army convoy. Fog and fatigue, according to the military, led to a navigation error that led them into "enemy territory." The convoy was ambushed; Lynch was badly injured and captured. A little more than a week later, thanks to a tip from an Iraqi man, she was rescued. How does this make her a hero?

I've been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time on many occasions. You too, I would wager. Does this make you or me some kind of hero? Uh, no. Does merely enlisting in the death brigade make one a hero? Does getting shot or stabbed or beaten up make one qualified for hero status? Help me here; I don't get this. It is one thing to celebrate the safe return of a person saved from a horrible fate. It is another to place someone on a pedestal for no apparent reason.

I can't help but wonder: Is America so starved for heroes? Here is a suggestion: Look to those being persecuted because they speak and act out for peace and justice. You'll find tons of heroes there.

Meanwhile, welcome back, Jessica. There's no need to give you false praise -- you should be welcomed home and celebrated just for being you and just for getting home safely. That, all by itself, is fine reason for elation.


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