The myth of the hero… naming the face of war.

As Veterans Day approaches I feel the usual hopelessness and dismay as we come round again on celebrating the” fallen heroes of war.”

I lost two uncles and a cousin, two in the Korean War and one in Vietnam so  I have experienced the loss of loved ones to combat firsthand.

Feminist Robin Morgan’s blog voices my distress over this obsession around keeping the myth of the heroes of war alive (at the continued cost of human lives) in a very powerful way.

She writes:

“…it seems to me that in human history, so far at least, just as the family has been made to serve as the ideal hierarchical foundation for patriarchy, so has war functioned as the perfected articulation of patriarchy, defining manliness as the drive for competition and the capacity to dominate and murder best.

To sustain that definition’s power requires the myth of the hero, which in turn necessitates a systemic hypocrisy: flags, parades, anthems, ceremonies, wreaths, medals, gold stars, and other patriotic symbols that nonetheless ring hollow though the 4 AM silence of a widow’s grief or the agony of a woman who has lost her grown child.

“We,” one woman says through the dignity of her tears, “are the ones left behind. We are the collateral damage.”

Those words slice through all the masks of hypocrisy and name the face of war.”