I have often wondered about what is bravery. The subject continually crops up in the media, books etc. Trawling through some old stories of WW2 I came across this definition by a French Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel after Dieppe in 1942. To me it is the most sensible way of looking at it I have come across. He says there are four elements. 1) Optimism 2) Discipline 3) Blind anger or desire for revenge 4) A deep seated feeling of "What the hell" Do you agree or do you have another way of describing bravery?
I am not sure what constitutes it or how best to describe it but I have a number of friends who have been decorated for bravery and I have discussed it with them over the years. The general consensus is that you don't really think about it, you just do it and do the thinking later. It is almost instinctive. Universally these people would claim that what they did was not brave, it was just what had to be done in a particular circumstance. I am sure training plays a large part in this and I think it would be interesting to contrast service personnel, police officers, firefighters etc. with "civilians". Does the factory-worker walking down the street who rushes into a burning building to save someone have a different thought process from a trained person? I really don't know but I don't think the Colonel's definition as given above would fit. It may well be right in a war situation but there are many types of bravery. Obviously, if he was in Dieppe in 1942 he knows a damn sight better than me but I think his definition is very combat-specific. I'm not sure if this answers the question or not but it is my take on it.
I think it means being afraid of something but facing it anyway.
Dave, that is a very good definition, if definition is the correct term.
The terms "Brave" and "Hero" are so misused and abused in the media today. I have always seen bravery as possessing a level of dignified courage, without overt fear, under most certain frightening circumstances, with uncertainty and likely dire consequences. Those who face severe illness, especially children, and maintain their optimism throughout, posses such bravery. Those who place themselves in an avoidable situation, with total disregard for their own safety in an effort to protect others also posses such bravery. But certain extreme acts of bravery and courage whereby a person knowingly places themselves in a situation where the consequences to their safety are likely to be catastrophic, are true heroes.
Agreed. I like way John Wayne said it many years ago about courage. Courage is being afraid and saddling up anyway.
I have no experience of this, obviously. Bravery takes many forms and I absolutely agree that bravery is being afraid and facing it anyway. I think bravery/courage is the simple realisation and acceptance that this thing is the right thing to do, regardless of personal risk, and that it must be done. So it is done. I do not think blind anger or a desire for revenge are any part of bravery.
I can understand why blind anger and revenge can be a part of war to help with motivation to face the fear.
Yes, of course...and I agree that in some situations both may come into play. But I do not think they are a requisite element of bravery, heroism or courage, and thus disagree with the definition given above (which implies they are a constituent element of all brave acts).
As a veteran of the tail end of the Vietnam War, I would define bravery as being scared witless and still, somehow, finding it in you to keep moving. Training overcomes instinct to an extent. Your instincts scream drop and curl into a ball with eyes tightly shut. Training doesn't really prepare you for the chaos and fear but it does help keep you moving. Optimism must have been a WWII thing - didn't see that in SE Asia.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you Lee. Don't usually talk about it - don't want to. Something about this site.... The way we were treated on our return stateside was what led me to India. Just wasn't ready for reentry into normal life and appple pie. No matter what my personal feelings re US foreign policy and senseless wars, I always make it a point to thank returning vets.
If it were up to me, Hanoi Jane would be tried and shot for treason. I am sorry for how you were treated upon re-entry.
Re: I think it means being afraid of something but facing it anyway." Seems to me this is the best one line explanation from David.