Bloomberg Understands Heroism

New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg has been criticized for his comments on the hero status of a 9/11 cleanup worker. After James Zadroga died of lung disease it was assumed that the cause was inhaled dust from working over 400 hours at ground zero. It has now been decided that his death was brought on by the injection of crushed up pills. Bloomberg said, “Nobody wanted to hear that; we wanted to have a hero, and there are plenty of heroes. It’s just, in this case, science says this was not a hero.”

It’s not just science saying this man was not a hero. How on earth did cleaning up in ground zero become an act of heroism? Bloomberg is absolutely correct, but people are again confusing victims with heroes. I can completely understand the kind of depression created by working on that site and the temptation to use drugs to dull it, but that is clearly not heroism.

“You can use your own definition,” Bloomberg said. “I think it’s a question of how you want to define what a hero is.”

The Associated Press asked a Carnegie Hero Fund Commission spokesman about the definition of heroism. “Whether that person had a shady background, or had been incarcerated or was a child abuser … none of that information is important to us,” Chambers said. “We don’t care. All we care about is the act. Did that rescuer risk his or her life to an extraordinary degree?”  A child abuser?  Really?

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2 Responses to Bloomberg Understands Heroism

  1. Kit November 1, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    That final comment is interesting, is it possible to differentiate between someone who performs a heroic act and a person who is a hero. Clearly a child abuser has not a lead a heroic lifestyle etc…but at the same time, if they are ‘called upon’ and do perform some form of heroism, should this not be recognized?

  2. Matt Langdon November 7, 2007 at 8:32 am #

    From The New York Times:

    Mr. Bloomberg publicly apologized for the comment during a bill signing yesterday afternoon.

    “I believe that James Zadroga was a hero for the way he lived, regardless of the way that he died,” the mayor said, “and although the medical examiner has made an independent determination as to the specific cause of death, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that James Zadroga served this city with distinction.”

    The mayor added: “I certainly apologize for my comments, and I committed to the family we will find a dignified way to honor his son’s sacrifice.”