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There's a change in our culture since 9/11 that often strikes me as an unmarked loss: The word hero used to mean a person who had accomplished something especially valorous or inspirational. And shortly after - I could probably pinpoint the day, if I had to, it changed and split into two phrases. Our heroes is now shorthand for a certain group of professions (police, military, firefighters,) and hero, all by itself, seems to mean someone willing to subscribe to a certain new idea of civic responsibility. A lame idea, at that - one where a bumper sticker or a rubber bracelet is considered 'action', and where we pretend that meaningless curtailments of civil rights are okay, as long as they make people feel safe. Call it civil obedience, if you like. But I'm offended to see a perfectly good word misappropriated.

I'm especially reminded of this, a few times a year, when I donate blood. 'Hero' is the catchword of their marketing campaign to potential donors, and it really grates on me. I don't mind cheapening the word to include me, per se, but 'someone who bleeds when you stick them' is setting the bar a little low.

On the plus side: This incredibly cute waitress gave me her number when I was out for dinner, and that cheered me right the hell up. So, a pint low and seven digits richer. I'll call it a day. :)


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February 2012

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