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America Loves Its Heroes

Mike Ensor
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How we define what it means to be a hero depends a lot on the values shared by the group that's in power at any given time.

We're seeing it today in the push and pull over the statues of men whose values no longer reflect the values of a changing community. And time tends to wash away the nuance and complexity of heroes that stand as a symbol of a prior generation.

Yet, America loves its heroes, even if only for a time. But ?we have a way of using the language of "heroism" to sacrifice the very heroes we admire. Many of the essential workers we deemed heroes of the pandemic had to choose between their health and a paycheck. They didn't choose to be heroes. Some didn't want to be. Others were silenced or shamed for speaking out about unsafe conditions.

This hour, we talk about what it means to be a hero, and we consider some Connecticut heroes you may not know about. ?

Also, a look at the unlikely hero driven to heroic acts to avoid being labeled a coward.


  • Dahlia Lithwick - Writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus
  • Chris Walsh - Director of the college of arts and sciences writing program at Boston University and the author of Cowardice: A Brief History
  • Walter Woodward - State historian of Connecticut, the author of Creating Connecticut, and the host of the Grating the Nutmeg podcast

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired July 28, 2020.

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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