Don’t Confuse Heroes with Celebrities

One of the great failures of the modern era is that heroes have been replaced with celebrities.

Tienanmen Square

Heroes are men and women who inspire us because of their great achievements and/or their exemplary acts of courage and conviction. Heroes have changed the course of history for the better. Heroes have saved lives at tremendous risk.  Heroes have made enormous sacrifices to help humanity. Heroes have pushed the boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of all mankind.

Celebrities, on the other hand, are known for their selfishness, materialism, decadence and debauchery

Florence Nightingale

In our society, celebrities have replaced real heroesGeorge Washington and Abraham Lincoln have been replaced by Justin Bieber and Beyoncé. The Founding Fathers and Mothers have been replaced by the Kardashians.

Lists of “heroes” on the internet include such celebrities as: Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Rhianna, Brad Pitt, Derek Jeter, George Clooney, Prince, Elton John, Johnny Depp, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, and on and on.

This is a sad commentary on our society.

Most celebrities are not exemplars. Most heroes are. Most celebrities are not role models. Most heroes are.

When we replace heroes with celebrities, we substitute style for substance and fantasy for reality. We confuse heroes with celebrities at our peril.

There are many types of heroes. Here are some examples:


Champions of Civil Rights

  • James Madison
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Frederick Douglas
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Martin Luther King
  • Caesar Chavez
  • Nelson Mandela

Religious Leaders

Harriet Tubman
  • Jesus
  • Martin Luther
  • John Wesley
  • William Wycliffe
  • Joseph Smith
  • Dali Lama

American War Heroes

  • Gen. George Patton
  • Sgt. Audie Murphy
  • Sgt. Alvin York
  • Lt. Com. Edward O’Hare
Malala Yousafzai

Pillars of Courage and Conviction

  • Joan of Arc
  • Nathan Hale
  • Rosa Parks
  • Malala Yousafzai


  • Mother Theresa
  • Raoul Wallenberg
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Harriet Tubman
Raoul Wallenberg

Statesmen/Political Leaders

  • George Washington
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Winston Churchill
  • Golda Meir
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Franklin Roosevelt
  • Ronald Reagan
Winston Churchill


  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Thomas Edison
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Thomas Edison
  • Nikola Tesla


Mother Teresa
  • Wright Brothers
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Marie Curie
  • Jonas Salk
  • Alexander Fleming
  • Albert Einstein


  • Christopher Columbus
  • Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea
  • James Cook
  • Jacques Cousteau
  • Yuri Gagarin  
  • Neil Armstrong

Everyday Heroes

Not all heroes are famous.  In fact, most are not.  Every day heroes include first responders, like firefighters and police.  Health care providers, like doctors and nurses. Teachers, clergy, scientists, engineers, parents and relatives, who strive to make us better, and the world we live in, a better place.

 Personal Heroes and Halls of Fame

Each of us should have personal heroes.  Their lives inspire us.  They motivate us to aim higher and do better.  They serve as examples of courage, dedication, perseverance, excellence, and integrity.    We should all have heroes in a personal Hall of Fame. 

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