Gabrielle Giffords is a brave woman. That is a fact that I will not argue but rather completely agree with after watching her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head that nearly claimed her life but instead left her severely impaired. The former Arizona Democrat who served three terms in Congress was shot on January 8, 2011 along with several others including federal judge John Roll and five other victims who were mortally wounded that day. Giffords’ recovery has been well documented in the media and some may say that she has become somewhat of a folk hero for the way that she has battled back from the hardship.
I hold no ill will toward Giffords. I applaud her for the great work that she has done and that she continues to do to empower women in similar circumstances. I do however, give pause every time I see her elevated to that folk hero status in the media when there are many who have either been wounded or who have fallen in the line of duty and yet remain obscure and obsolete in our history. Is it because their wounds were not considered worthy of report? Is it because they did not hold prominence in society or can it be that they were wounded or that they lost their life in a manner that was less visible to the public eye?
What of the countless victims of violent, senseless crime who die daily, hourly, by the minute in rural counties or in urban populations? Where are their awards? Where are their banners crying for the death of those who have wronged them? Where is their continuing coverage calling for their rights in the news and a public mockery of their assailants?
Browse the hallowed halls of Officer Down Memorial Page, of those who have given their lives in military service or volunteer firefighters and I feel somewhat peeved that the media attention given to media darlings such as Giffords seems almost absurd or laughable. But it is only preposterous because of the blatant misuse and abuse of tragedies by the media to land a big story or cash in on a scoop, not because of the sacrifices and deaths of good people who are glorified for the sake of a headline.
We all have our hero’s. I prefer the unsung ones without diminishing the sacrifices and hardships experienced by people like Giffords. I look to the example of Pat Tillman whose tragic death while serving in Iraq served as a reminder for many years after his passing that the war was unfair and unwarranted and though he may fall into the same category of ‘media darling’ that Giffords finds herself in, in the end one fact stands out above all others – that Tillman bypassed all fame and money to die defending his country doing what he felt he needed to do to protect our freedoms and our rights.
I look to the example of three young men who died placing themselves in harm’s way to make sure that their girlfriends did not perish at the hands of a calculated murderer in a movie theater in Aurora. I think of all the unknown and unsung heroes living and who have passed who sacrifice their lives for a cause, for a loved one, even for a total stranger – not because there is glory involved but because it is the right thing to do.
Gabrielle Giffords is a hero – but I think there are more who deserve the same if not more praise for putting life and limb on the line to do what is right.