US postal stamps featuring Baseball heroes

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

By Michael Sigler| July 13, 2013 |
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Charles Lindbergh - heroes from generations past. Every kid had one; every adult secretly wished their lives could be like those people whose names graced the front pages of every newspaper. Somehow as long as we knew in our hearts that we had a Joe Lewis or a Jack Armstrong, then the world seemed okay. Those men and women of past ages who were bigger than life somehow helped carry us through. How many stories can we tell of the sick boy who had Babe Ruth hit a home run for him? Or General Douglas MacArthur’s triumphant return to the Philippines?

The decades rolled by and we understood each generation by it’s identification with the times. War babies, Baby Boomers, Hippie Generation. Each time at least being able to tie a generation in with its history. Along the way something happened. A whole generation became lost, fallen through the cracks of society which could no longer identify them with any part of our past. The heroes died, passed into the archives of time where they have become collector’s items. The children of the seventies would be called the X generation, and by the middle eighties it was apparent to many that this was a generation tied to no one, owing no allegiance and finding among its heroes, characters who were more the embodiment of a warlord than a local nice guy.

In the search for identity these Generation X’ers became skater punks, grunge heads, and thrash masters, pacifier people, and video junkies. The X Generation has become the control generation, attempting to gain the mastery of all they touched whether computers or video games. In an attempt to understand how this happened one needs only to read the past.

The heroes we set up for ourselves were only flesh and blood, and somehow when they did fall we were much more willing to forgive and forget. Somehow their mistakes were less glaring and obvious. While in past generations we have been more tolerable and forgiving of the mistakes made by the local population. Generation X has refused to share with us in this. In every area of society the X Generation has seen hypocrisy, violence, broken dreams, and a lot of unkempt promises. Generation X says. “We will forge a new way.” Even though it might be in your face, at least there is no hypocrisy in it, and no covering up reality.

The sad thing is that while Generation X may have made a bold attempt at eliminating hypocrisy, they have not filled the empty space inside. Just as generations in the past have come up empty handed and disillusioned, so the current generation must suffer the same fate. Unless they can find the one thing that can fill the empty void.

It’s a mistake for us to think that the problems of a new generation are unique, and that the solution lies in finding new heroes. Heroes in this world are often only tabloid images, built up for our enjoyment. We need to find the hero who has stood the test of time.