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That guy looks like a hero.  He’s risking his life to save another.  Many Americans who don the uniform are also heroes, but many are not.  And not all who are killed in the line of duty deserve the description of hero.


  1. A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.
  2. The chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities.

I watch Up With Chris Hayes Sunday morning, as is my usual routine.  And I leaned in to listen as I heard Hayes verbalize the thoughts I’ve spoken with regard to how we label our military men and women with “hero”:

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Bravo! It obviously wasn’t easy for him to get the words out, but I applauded him for his stance. During the 2008 presidential campaign, I spoke of the same disparity used in the description of John McCain.  Yes, he was a Navy pilot – a bad one (who graduated fifth from the bottom of his class); yes he was a Prisoner of War (who had crashed three planes before being shot down in a bombing mission over Hanoi).

I’m sorry he was a POW for five years. But being held prisoner still doesn’t make him a hero.

I know I’ve never served in the military, nor has Chris Hayes, and obviously neither of us has seen combat. But we’ve all heard the stories of real heroes – like Medal of Honor winner Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer who defied a direct order and put his life at risk to save 36 people. 

But we’ve also heard the horror stories of others, like this one and this one, who enlisted but turned out to be anything but heroes. 

But for some reason, Chris Hayes backtracked last night, issuing this statement:

On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word “hero” to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don’t think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I’ve set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that.

As many have rightly pointed out, it’s very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about the people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots. Of course, that is true of the overwhelming majority of our nation’s citizens as a whole. One of the points made during Sunday’s show was just how removed most Americans are from the wars we fight, how small a percentage of our population is asked to shoulder the entire burden and how easy it becomes to never read the names of those who are wounded and fight and die, to not ask questions about the direction of our strategy in Afghanistan, and to assuage our own collective guilt about this disconnect with a pro-forma ritual that we observe briefly before returning to our barbecues.

But in seeking to discuss the civilian-military divide and the social distance between those who fight and those who don’t, I ended up reinforcing it, conforming to a stereotype of a removed pundit whose views are not anchored in the very real and very wrenching experience of this long decade of war. And for that I am truly sorry.

Chris, being right means never having to say you’re sorry… though I think I understand why you did it. I don’t think you bowed to the corporate pressures from MSNBC; I think it was the hate mail from the families of fallen soldiers.  Sometimes it’s just easier to honor their grief and move on.  But I heard you, and so did many others.  Thank you for speaking the truth.  

This morning on the show, I checked in with Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media & Democracy, based in Madison, WI to get the latest on the recall election. Election Day is one week from today.  And I continued my mission to get the DNC to pay attention and get involved in this race before it’s too late!

And in hour two, as we do every Tuesday, we hung out with The Political Carnival’s GottaLaff – and talked these stories and more:

Study: “”The most ardent tea party Republicans” in Congress speak “at about an eighth-grade level.”

Group: Gun deaths in ten states top road fatalities
VIDEO- George Will: Donald Trump is a “low IQ… bloviating ignoramus… What [benefit] is Romney seeking?”

VIDEO- Donald Trump: Mitt Romney would “buy companies, he’d close companies, he’d get rid of jobs, OK?”

 VIDEO: Mitt Romney slips, tells the truth, completely invalidates GOP Economics 101 + says Bain “didn’t create” jobs

VIDEO: Newt Gingrich’s most (sadly) accurate three seconds ever.

VIDEO- Rudy Giuliani: Ego is “all part of campaigning.” He should know.

Minnesota anti-marriage equality group targets Target for selling gay pride tee shirts

Scott Walker’s “campaign was one of the dirtiest in school history.”