Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared

Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared

Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared

Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared

Synopsis

The United States has run out of heroes. "Hero" refers to a national hero, a Universal American around whom we all would rally if called. The hero is the man - rarely the woman - who inspires children and adults, and reflects the finest qualities of the American people. He is recognized as an inspiration, seen as someone engendering our best qualities. It is not that the hero represents most if not all Americans; it is that most if not all Americans are happy to have him as their representative. This is the man, the role, gone from our lives, permanently. Edelstein gives a vivid description of heroes of America's past, and offers an explanation of the national appeal of such men as Billy the Kid, Babe Ruth, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He describes how many of the fields from which Americans once drew their heroes have disappeared, and how the structures of other fields that were once sources of heroes have been altered, thereby obstructing the creation of new heroes. Not that heroism is dead. To the contrary, many Americans are often found performing heroic acts: police officers and fire fighters, federal agents and everyday people are regularly commended for committing acts above and beyond the call of duty. But these heroic actions are usually noted only on a local level. To be an American hero is to be a national hero. This is accomplished by an act of an individual that demands and receives national attention. But that doesn't seem to happen anymore. It is difficult to recall the last ticker-tape parade for an individual American hero. Parades now celebrate groups: freed hostages, winning sports teams, returning service personnel. The book concludes with adiscussion on the ramifications of the disappearance of the American hero.

Excerpt

The United States has run out of heroes. "Hero" refers to a national hero, a Universal American around whom we all would rally if called. The hero is the man--rarely the woman, a point to be considered later--who inspires children and adults, who reflects the finest qualities of the American people, and who is recognized by the American people as an inspiration and as someone who reflects those qualities. It is not just that the hero represents most if not all Americans; it is that most if not all Americans are happy to have him as their representative. That is the man who is gone from our lives--and permanently.

Nor are there any arenas from which a modern American hero can arise. Quite the contrary, many of the fields from which Americans drew their past heroes are gone, and the structures of other fields that were once sources of American heroes have been altered to the point of obstructing the creation of new heroes.

The argument here is not that there aren't heroic people in the United States anymore. Americans perform heroic acts every day. A glance at any local newspaper testifies to that assertion. "Ordinary" men and women in this country regularly perform extraordinary feats of courage and self-sacrifice. As a matter of course members of local police and fire departments save lives while risking their own. Federal agents who place themselves in danger combatting drug traffickers, the men and women of our armed forces, and the people who work in emergency rooms of big city hospitals . . .

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