Putting today's heroes into perspective

Monday, June 6, 2016

The news has been filled with tributes to Muhammad Ali, and with good reason.

At once inspiring, controversial and polarizing, he became an elder statesman and spokesman for various causes such as Parkinson's syndrome, as a "U.N. Messenger of Peace" to Afghanistan, and kept in the spotlight with actions such as the support of Ronald Reagan's re-election, talking a suicidal man down from a ninth-floor ledge in Los Angeles and lighting the torch at the Atlanta Olympic games.

Unfortunately, readers and viewers have a short, narrow attention span, and another hero didn't get the attention he deserved.

Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was killed when his Blue Angels jet crashed Thursday, shortly after takeoff for a practice session for a Tennessee Air Show.

The 32-year-old husband and father of two apparently stayed in his falling aircraft to make sure it didn't kill other people on the ground.

Another show pilot ejected safely and his Air Force Thunderbird jet crashed in an open field after a flyover at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation ceremony attended by President Obama, also on Thursday.

Both air show teams took a year off in 2013 due to federal budget cuts, but resumed flying in 2014, hoping to inspire the best and brightest of our nation's youth to pursue military careers.

While they have some of the best maintenance in the world, both teams generally fly older aircraft in the most demanding conditions, and there have been a number of accidents over the years.

In contrast to Ali's refusal to submit to the draft as a conscientious objector, a million American, British, French, Canadian and Polish troops stormed the Normandy beaches or parachuted behind enemy lines to begin the process of freeing Europe from Nazi terror.

The modern media beast throws an intense spotlight on villains and heroes, deserving or not.

This weekend's stories are a good illustration of the need for proper perspective.

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  • Ali was a draft dodger. To a lot of people he was a hero. Not to me. Not to a lot of veterans.

    -- Posted by bob s on Mon, Jun 6, 2016, at 7:38 PM
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