Last week, a friend and I had coffee. Topics of conversation ranged from the Super Bowl to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. We spoke about the massive news coverage that actors and our modern-day gladiators receive on a daily basis. When one of them dies unexpectedly in the prime of life, it is worldwide news.
But the depth of the coverage is astounding. News organizations report on the causes and reasons and every detail surrounding their deaths. The media still report on the anniversary of the deaths of Michael Jackson, and even Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962. Heath Ledger’s overdose in 2008 was brought up in comparison to that of Hoffman’s.
My friend looked at me at that point in our conversation and simply stated, “If only we would honor our real heroes — our military heroes — the way we do actors and athletes.”
When was the last time the media covered the loss of a war hero and honored him in that way? What about Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman, who died in 2008 at the age of 80? Ed saved more than 30 of his brothers in Vietnam. Little was made of his passing.
Or, more recently, James Vester, a 32-year-old veteran of the Iraq war. He was shot and killed by two teenage brothers who posted a listing for an iPad on Craigslist in Indianapolis. When Vester went to pick up and pay for the item, a Christmas gift for his parents, the two teens murdered him. Vester left a wife and a year-old son behind. News of his death did not make national news; it was only pursued by the local outlet because it involved murder!
And what about the loss of many thousands of our other service men and women, both home and abroad? Will they be honored nationally as they should be? Veterans Day, you say. Really? Is that all?
It is sad and disrespectful that we as citizens don’t honor our real heroes, the soldiers and veterans of our military. Without them, neither the actors, athletes nor any of us would have the freedom and the fortunate lifestyles that we do.
Where am I going with this in a column usually devoted to business protocol and etiquette? Simply this. It is difficult to understand why we as a nation are eager to read about Justin Bieber, who has set a bad example for our youth; or actors whose own self-destructive instincts are idolized; or spoiled, wealthy athletes who are too self-absorbed to be good role models. When do the artists, actors and athletes who are good role models get noticed for the all the work they do to help others. And, when will we as a nation pay the undying respect that our past and present military deserve for keeping us safe?
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If we can’t honor our true heroes, how will we ever be able to provide the appropriate respect to each other, in or outside of business?
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— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or get information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.