A little while ago Thog posted a news story about a British soldier in Iraq who saved his friends by throwing himself on a live grenade. The force of the blast was absorbed by his rucksack and his body armour and he survived with a nosebleed.
I was thinking about that while I read Sydney Dowse's obit. There's an advert for a new season on Sky currently being screened. It talks about `heroes,' and accompanying it are clips from Saving Private Ryan and a couple of other films, but also clips of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United footballers, for those of you scratching your heads) and I thought Sydney Dowse and that soldier in Iraq are heroes, not these overpaid sportsmen.
Jeremy Clarkson did a brilliant programme a couple of years ago about winners of the Victoria Cross, and threaded through it was the story of an officer who took part in Operation Market Garden - the `Bridge Too Far' operation. To hear it, this chap was more or less superhuman. At one point, seriously wounded, he was using a mortar as a handgun. But it was all true, and he was awarded the VC and when he went home after the War he never spoke of it to his family - which included Clarkson's future wife - who only found out about it after he died.
I do wonder when the word `hero' became so debased that it's used to describe someone like this and - with a perfectly straight face - a footballer.