I have maintained that people like Dakota Meyer, Marcus Luttrell, Ross A. McGinnis and other REAL heroes have made no sacrifices. And to call what they did a sacrifice is an insult and a massive abomination. We might as well call them dumb-ass, ignorant fools! By definition, a sacrifice is the exchange of something more for something less and that is not what these great people have done. By definition, if they truly sacrificed then they did do something stupid. No, what these real American heroes did is something far more noble, admirable and honorable than a mere idiotic act of sacrifice. They made a value and a moral choice and then they acted on that value and moral choice with impeccable integrity and irreproachable ethics.

Their true greatness lies not in an act, episode or sequence of events, but that they had strong morals and values and more to the point, they were willing to up hold those morals and values even at the cost of their own lives. This is what makes them so great. So what are the moral and value choices that they made? I can’t say for sure, and I don’t want to nor am I qualified to make any definitive assertions. However, based on numerous testimonies, interviews, documentaries and biographical stories certain common themes repeat themselves over and over again.

None of these heroes believe that they are heroes, very few, if any, are blabber-mouths about their own lives and heroic actions, and almost all will tell you that they only did what anyone else in their situation would have done. Last but not least, to a man they will tell you that they did what they did because of their comrades/friends in arms, to protect and help their brothers-in-arms. And, this is the key to why these heroes are truly heroes: They believe in and place value in something greater than their own life and, therefore, they made the choice to gladly trade their life for that greater value.

So, what are these values and moral choices that they believe in so strongly that they would gladly and willingly trade their lives for? Based on various testimonies, interviews and personal accounts, these value/moral choices start with the belief that the defense of our country and what our country stands for is far more important than any one individual’s life. The belief that to give one’s life in defense of what our country stands for and is about, without hesitation and second thought, is the greatest purpose one can dedicate one’s life to is what makes these great people heroic. However, what makes them actual heroes is that they put their lives at risk and in harm’s way and actually put into action their moral/value choice, which makes them supremely honorable men of action with impeccable ethics and unimpeachable integrity.

The next level of moral/value choice that these great men seem to uphold is the thought that the protection of their comrades and brothers-in-arms is worth the trade for their own lives, especially if by ending their life it means the survival of others. And, perhaps this is what makes these heroes true heroes. But, again, there is no sacrifice. They have chosen to believe and to put into action this belief that the saving of another’s life holds far greater value than risking their own life or trading the lives of many for the one is a great value choice. We see this repeatedly with people like Ross A. McGinnis, Chris Kyle, Marcus Luttrell, Mohammad Gulab, Michael Murphy, Salvatore Guinta, Dakota Meyer, and others.

As an aside, to call athletes and celebrities heroes is an insult to real heroes like the ones mentioned in this post, and it is a blight on our country that the vast majority of people in this country can name their favorite celebrity or athlete, but can’t even name one CMOH recipient. What does this say about the people in this country?

Getting back to the point of this post, real heroes don’t make sacrifices, they make choices, heroic choices that they then put into action. However, it is one thing for individuals to make this choice, but for entire families to support that individual’s choices is unimaginable, at least it is for me. I can only imagine the ordeal that people like Taya Kyle and her children had to go through while Chris Kyle was in-country. And, again, people marvel at their sacrifice, but again, I say that to say the families make sacrifices is just too cheap and insulting. I believe that they too make a moral/value choice, but in many ways their moral/value choice is more difficult and gut-wrenching than those made by the heroes themselves.  This is because the families can only support their heroes choices and can do little to affect the outcome of their heroes choices and actions. How gut-wrenching it must be to wait and wonder if their hero will return to them and, if so, if the person that returns is the same as the person that left. I can’t even begin to imagine the courage and faith that these people have to not only support their heroes but also to go through the gut-wrenching ordeal of just waiting, and waiting, and waiting … . Perhaps this is why so many heroes say that to them the real heroes are the ones waiting at home.

To this end, I equally admire and respect people like Taya Kyle and her children and every service person’s family, especially their spouses and children, not to mention the parents of young service members. I wonder how these people have the strength to see their heroes repeatedly step into harm’s way not knowing whether they’ll be a next time. To me, it is truly amazing and confounding that such people actually exist and have such enormous courage to support their heroes. Unbelievable. I’m not sure that I could stand to see my children or my spouse make those choices without going insane.

To the families of those that serve: Thank you for your courage and strength and for making the conscious moral/value choice to lend support and believe in the same things as your heroes believe in and sharing your heroes with us. Thank you for giving your heroes the conviction, support, and courage to stand guard so that we don’t have to, allow us to live without fear and give us the opportunity to live our lives the way we want to. And, I apologies for not being able to come up with words better than “thank you” to express my gratitude and profound respect and admiration to both you and your heroes. And, I hope that your difficulties end soon and nothing but happiness, love and good health remains for the rest of your lives.