To the Editor:

The recent KISD assignment of “hero interview” is not at all offensive to me as a retired soldier. The questions are challenging but possible to answer by junior high students.

“What makes somebody a hero?” The difference between a hero and a fool in any situation is timing.

“Who is somebody that is like a hero to you? Why are they a hero to you?” This can be anybody from a religious figure, famous person (actor, political, relative) and an easy to respond to question.

“What makes a soldier a hero?” Now the questions are taking a different turn as they turn to the profession of soldiering. So rather than “somebody” which was rather vague, the word should have been “soldier” or service member from the start.

This was already answered in the first question; to which we can add the phrase “soldiers become a heroes when their positive actions are seen as such and noticed.”

To wit, the more impressed and higher ranking onlookers are, the higher the award. I have experienced this from getting many (4) awards in combat (during enlisted times working in intelligence) downgraded to Army commendation medals, and finally receiving a Bronze Star — then getting my retirement award downgraded.

“Is it acceptable to kill someone you know nothing about in the name of war? Why or why not?” This would be the point where it is appropriate to attack the question: since when is knowing something about an individual a pre-requisite for engaging them in war? When shooting or getting shot at in the 1980’s — the last song on my mind was “Getting to know you!”

“Is war justified?” Enter the Just War theory by Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. (heard about it first in a public middle school in the 1970s when Vietnam was ending then in the NCO academy)

There are seven principles of the Just-War Theory: It is a last resort once all diplomatic methods have failed; it has to be waged by a legitimate government. It has to be a just cause in response to a wrong suffered. There must be a rational hope of success; it has to re-establish peace. The violence in a just war must be proportional to the casualties suffered. Innocent civilians must never be the target of war which is why genocide is always unacceptable.

So, middle school students, do what you are best at; analyze, think, take things apart, and back your thinking up with facts; even if it goes against the type of questions you are being asked- question the questions. And parents, never be affronted by the challenge.

Paul Passamonti

retired Army major


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