Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Lost Perspective on Heroes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Lost Perspective on Heroes

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Lost perspective on heroes

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An editorial from the Red Deer Advocate, published Aug. 28:

America creates heroes, brick on teetering brick, like an imaginative child fashions building block figures: never simply, always with grand intent regardless of the reality.

From Neil Armstrong to Lance Armstrong, the culture of success so fundamental to the United States ethos means that the nation is always erecting pedestals, and always hoisting someone atop those pedestals. A national obsession with striving to be the best isn't enough; Americans seem to need to constantly celebrate -- and flaunt -- their achievements.

It goes beyond good nation building, all the way to chauvinism.

Even the best of human endeavour, like venturing into space, becomes grandiose and, ultimately, perspective of the feat becomes twisted.

The space program should have always been about exploring, developing new technologies, and testing human limits. It should have been about advancing the human experience, and our well of knowledge, for the betterment of everyone.

Given the era, of course, it was about much more than that. (And, in hindsight, it's often seen now as a colossal waste of public money that could have been put to use educating, housing and feeding America's vast poor.)

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, tacitly declaring victory for the United States in its decade-long space race with the Soviet Union, and diverting attention from a host of ailments that had beset American society, from a disaffected generation to a pointlessly tragic war in Vietnam.

Neil Armstrong never meant to be a hero, and shied from the spotlight in the following decades until his death last weekend. That he had the stuff of a hero is undeniable. He was a combat-hardened war veteran, a brilliant engineer, a brave and skilled test pilot, a teacher and an innovator. …

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