Sheroes and Heroes” A Memorial Day Tribute #whatisahero #memorialday #heroes #sheroes
May 25, 2015
I was amazed when checking the dictionary for the word HERO. I realized that even Webster leaned toward the masculine for the meaning of this word, which we have all come to celebrate on Memorial Day. Wikipedia defines hero as: “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero.”
Don’t you think it’s time we include women to be a part of a term for which we have ascribed to courageous acts? As always, with women, our terminology has ascribed a separate word for women’s acts of courage, heroine, but that just doesn’t do it for me, and it certainly removes women from the conversation, when we talk simply of heroes?
When I think of heroes such as Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Abraham Lincoln, they are all heroes—equally heroic—despite gender or race. As you know, many women fight as men do in wars, and still we seek to create gender bias, or worse yet allow high-ranking male officers to mistreat them sexually and get away with it.
Women fighting for our country have, to not only face a battle for religious and political rights, but also face the injustices of sexual abuse from fellow enlistees and high ranking military officer. In an article in the New York Times Magazine, “The Military’s Rough Justice on Sexual Assault” (Nov. 26, 2014 issue) we learn of the many civilian women affected by the militaries own “special” legal system, releasing countless male military officers from conviction, because of the red tape around military legal proceedings.
One woman, Kim Hanks (a medical assistant) and her lawyer, (Colonel Don Christensen fought back. Ms. Hanks had accused Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, Aviano’s inspector general and a highly regarded F-16 fighter pilot, of rape and won, only to find out three months later that the jury trial had been overturned. Wilkerson had been released from his year jail sentence and returned to his full post as Lt. Colonel.
The next act is what I would consider heroic! Instead of Kim Hanks and Colonel Christensen, her lawyer, hunkering down in defeat, they fought back for justice, not just for Ms. Hanks, but for every woman who would subsequently face the same injustice. They not only got Wilkerson dismissed from duty, but subsequently got the president involved in changing the law protecting rapists like Wilkerson for the future. This is heroism in action.
Our fight in this world is not just with guns and battle artillery. No, in fact, it is with our strong wills to see justice for all, especially those downtrodden and under supported by our legal system. In the past we’ve seen Russian GLBT people imprisoned for being gay, but have also felt the power of Ireland’s recent support for gay rights, amending Ireland’s definition of marriage.
We can see that the fight for rights around the world is a long and arduous one. Our real heroes are not only the ones going to actual battle with guns and artillery but the ones who face injustices to change the infrastructure of laws for all of our benefits.
Today we celebrate all of our heroes!
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