Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Heroes Day of Valor; or, ''Araw ng Kagitingan" (Philippines)

April 9, 1942, Japanese troops received the surrender of 76,000 troops (the majority being Filipino and American along with thousands of Chinese). These starving, diseased troops were forced to march over 90 miles to an internment camp and hundreds never arrived, dying along the way of sickness, infection or were simply executed. Some managed to escape. Today is the Veterans Day of the Philippines, remembering those who were swept up in the Bataan Death March. Today is the Heroes Day of Valor.

Heroes. We have plenty of them--but Heroes of Valor? What does this word, “valor” mean, anyway? Who cares to look it up? Perhaps one should. A fresh definition may change one's view of the hero . . .

Early sea voyagers theorized that Atoll islands were built by coral-animals for the purpose of personal protection. Scientific observation revealed this fascinating fact: coral-builders can only live in the open ocean, particularly where there is plenty of aeration (provided by active wave-action). So which is stronger: the one who lives in protection and comfort, or the one who endures hardship, being made into a man or woman with character?

Valor is not a word commonly used today I fear that Heroes of Valor are on the endangered list. No pun is intended, but a point is being made: men and women of valor are few and far between because few actually understand courage and danger. We substitute courage with comfort. This is probably one reason why Superheroes are making a comeback because the best we can do is fantasize what courage must look like then try to live vicariously through cosplay.

I find a fresh reason to thank our troops who fight for our freedom. I find reason to expand my view of a hero of valor to men and women who stand up for right--and stand up and stand up and stand up.

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