Monday, July 28, 2003

Lynch, Jones:

With all the media attention being paid to the PFC Lynch rescue story, I began to wonder about other 'heroes' from history, and the role of the media and technology in the development of heroes.

With so much scrutiny, the initial stories of the rescue from the hospital, the exact circumstances of the initial ambush and the actual injuries sustained began to be blurred. What had been initially seized upon as a real story of heroism took on a bit of a strange color.

My question is, with all of the access we have to dates, facts and figures, as well as the incessant hunger to expose someone to get a better story, is it a lot more difficult today to produce a 'clean' hero? Would, say, John Paul Jones actually have been quoted as saying "We have not yet begun to fight!" or would the Drudge Ink & Quill Report have something like:

...a diminutive and slightly rumpled Jones emerged from his cabin, only to be informed by the trembling cabin-boy that HMS Serapis had already delivered a crippling blow to the Bonhomme Richard, thus disturbing his daily nap. Several sources are said to have overheard him mumble: "...wha... we have not yet begun to fight?..." and this stumble eventually led to his disgrace and later flight to service in the Russian Navy.

Or will we, as Americans now view Jones through the lens of time, see PFC Lynch as a heroine of the second Gulf war? Will time undo all the access to the ugly details of a story that technology has enabled?

Wait and see. But you might have to wait 200 years.