AMERICAN NOTES: Of War and Heroes

Sensing his own frailty, each man yearns for someone stronger or nobler or more certain in whom to believe. He embraces God, or he elevates mortals to the status of heroes, or he does both. The death of World War II hero Audie Murphy (see page 27) was a melancholy reminder that society imposes an impossible burden on those few from whom it expects so much. This is especially true of the battle hero, whose impulsiveness, perhaps sheer recklessness, and submersion of self can emerge as fatal faults in the day-by-day pursuit of peacetime success. And the hero, too, aware...

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