May 05, 2005

memory of heroes

Since 1989, I have lived in places that celebrate Cinco de Mayo (celebrations here generally involve more tequila than history). It's not my holiday, though. For me today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Since 9/11, I've become especially conscious of the overuse of the word "hero", and its confusion with the word "victim". One does not become a hero simply by being victimized, or even by being brutally tortured or killed. One becomes a hero by doing something about it. I recently saw someone referred to as a "heroine of Flight 93", for example. There certainly were heroes on that flight by anyone's definition, the ones who rushed the terrorists and brought the plane down in am empty field instead of a populated high rise. But the rest of the passengers on that flight were victims: tragedies, yes, but not necesarily heroes. A hero is one who fights back, whether the fight be physical, spiritual, moral, or a fight of endurance. A victim can be mourned, but a hero is also celebrated.

Today I will remember the thirteen million tragedies of the Holocaust and the additional millions who have died in genocides since then. It's already too late to promise "Never Again," but I will promise never to forget. And I will especially remember the heroes, hoping simultaneously that I'll never have to follow their examples, and that I could if I had to.

Here are some of them.

Posted by dichroic at May 5, 2005 01:29 PM
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