Victoria Cross>>>George Cross>>>White Feather
We are being faced these days with the spectacle of people being exterminated or publically murdered in Syria & Iraq, by a fanatical religious evil band of Islamic extremist terrorists (ISIS) – innocents killed simply because of their ethnicity or religion, and journalists & aid-workers thrown in to create publicity for the perpetrators, and affront common decency.
The Westerners ‘kidnapped’, put themselves in danger without doubt, but did they recognise that at the time we wonder? Aid workers trying to carry out humanitarian work, but getting caught up in someone else’s fight, is distressing beyond belief, but they will either have been ill-informed or ill-advised, to have tried to help where they went when they went. Without doubt we admire their commitment and spunk in carrying out their mission, and abhor their cruel un-Muslamic treatment. Journalists who have the guts to go to theatres of conflict to relay news to the World of the suffering inflicted on the non-combatant populations, are men & women of immense courage that those of us in safe places can only esteem and never aspire to. Their capture, detention, torture, injury & killing, is a crime of such magnitude that no god will ever let go unpunished. All these kidnapped persons are the unsung heroes of our civilisation, and our minds & hearts go out to them and their families.
In general though, what about other lionhearts? Those other men and women acclaimed as heroes (heroines), who are revered by us fellow mankind, aren’t they? But who are these strange people, those who make the rest of us normal mortals feel inadequate, because when the chips are down, our innate human instinct for self preservation constrains our thoughts and actions? Are we the reluctant antiheros who fear we don’t have what it takes if when we might unexpectedly face danger & death?
Fear (together with pain) is an essentially important mental attribute embedded in both ‘homo sapiens’, and other animal or creatures’, consciousness – it ensures species survival and physical non-injury you see. [Some unfortunate people suffer from medical syndromes where for example pain mechanisms don’t work and so fear disappears and major dangers to their wellbeing ensue].
The hero is someone who we in society routinely classify as ‘brave’, which basically means that they have put themselves at serious risk. It mostly arises in the case of wartime operations doesn’t it? Indeed, soldiers who put their lives on the line, or commonly lose them, to overcome bad odds in critical battle situations, or frequently to protect and save the lives of their comrades. So does that actually make them also ‘sensible’ individuals OR alternatively perhaps pretty ‘stupid’?.
The greatest British award for military gallantry is of course the a hundred and sixty year old medal the Victoria Cross, and for civilians its equal, the George Cross medal established in 1940 (granted in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger’).
[Three men have won two VC’s in the history of the medal – Surgeon Captain Arthur Martin-Leake, Captain Noel Chavasse and Captain Charles Upham.
James Ashworth of Corby Northamptonshire [the latest VC 2012]
Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack. This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.
Victoria Cross citation for James Ashworth VC
Jane Harrison from Bradford [the only civilian woman awarded the GC for gallantry 1968]
An air stewardess on BOAC Flight 712, who died on 8 April 1968 after helping many passengers escape from an onboard fire at Heathrow Airport. She refused to leave the plane to save herself and her body was found near that of a disabled pensioner, seated in one of the last rows. (GC Awarded posthumously).
[Any British family that has had a VC or GC awarded to a relative will rightfully enjoy the enduring respect of our grateful nation].
The British & Americans are fighting a war against terrorism aren’t we? So what about awarding NOW the three murdered men, who have died in our cause, the VC/GM for their extraordinary courage and sacrifice? Show our solidarity and dedication to our dead civilian countryman and ally reporters? [if the Americans can give one of our guys their top medal, the Congressional Medal of Honour, we won’t let any old restrictions on nationality stand in the way, surely?].
American journalist ‘Jim Foley’
US journalist ‘Steven Sotloff’
British Aid-Worker ‘David Haines’
[Perhaps the potential chickens amongst us might take refuge in the quote of past English actor, writer, dramatist, filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, author, screenwriter, comedian, humorist ‘Peter Ustinov’??? “Courage is often ‘lack of insight’, whereas cowardice in many cases is based on ‘good information’ ”].