A reader writes:

Those on Flight 93, in the towers, and in uniform at ground zero epitomize heroism because of the severity of their respective situations and their courageous responses to them.  They became heroes at a level recognized by the entire world.  But, as you wrote:

We rightly see servicemembers as special - because they make possible everything else. Without defense, we would have no secure country. And without citizens prepared to risk their lives, we would have no defense.

By this logic (which I completely agree with) the very act of enlisting is in itself a heroic act.  Maybe not on the same scale as those who risked their lives on 9/11, but to the enlisting individual's family, friends, and community, of course it is.  That thirteen of such individuals would lose their lives, not in combat, but on their home soil, is tragic.  They are victims of something we presently do not understand, but they are still heroes in their own right. Let's not split hairs here.

Another writes:

While the term hero was rightfully reclaimed on 9/11 to be reserved for those who do more heroic feats than hit home runs or score touchdowns, I agree that society is slipping back to using the term in a broader sense in recent times.  However, I disagree with taking the title away from those who serve in an all-volunteer fighting force at a time that America is fighting two wars.  Especially on today of all days.  Whether they died with a gun in hand or not, in the US or overseas, they were heroes because they served when we really needed them.

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