In the modern society, it is almost impossible to identify an outstanding individual to look up to as a hero. Most people today are analytic and are not easily persuaded to trust someone they should consider a hero without fear of being led astray. However, many have exemplary risked their lives for the success of the society. Apart from the willingness to fight for everyone’s freedom, my modern day hero of choice is someone has been outstanding in his career and is always willing to lay down his life for the sake of his people. James Blake Miller is that modern-day hero. He became the staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and fought many battles not only in America but also in the overseas countries such as Iraq and Djibouti. Apart from protecting the lives of all the America, Miller’s ambition was to set other countries free from terrorism.
James Blake Miller was born on July 10, 1984. He was raised in Jonancy, Kentucky where he lived with his parents and siblings (Aktahar 125). Miller’s middle name became an inspiration, the show of dynasty to his father and grandfather. Both the father and grandfather had served in the military with one serving in the combat during the Vietnam War. At the age of seventeen, Miller became an ordained minister. However, he was not interested in the coal mines (Akhtar 125). His passion to work in law enforcement motivated him to join the United States Marine Corps (Akhtar 125). Throughout his career, Miller participate in the peacekeeping, missions in different countries including Kosovo, Djibouti, Somalia, and Iraq.
Miller is identified as a man with dirt and ash on his face in a military helmet, staring intently while smoking cigarette. At twenty year old, Miller was among the famous soldiers who formed part of Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion during the 8th Marine Regiment. In late 2004, his unit successfully took part in the second battle of Fallujah. Miller’s heroism appeared in the limelight after he was photographed by Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times photographer. In this distinct photograph, Miller is leaning against a wall while smoking cigarette. His expression made a lasting impression in Sinco’s eyes (Macfarlane 20). According to the photographer, Miller’s precise expression appeared terrified, exhausted but glad to be alive. He empathized with Miller because he could easily relate to the same situation. After the publication of the iconic photo in the newspaper, it attracted the attention of many Americans with some dabbing him the Marlboro man while others refer to him as Marlboro Marine.
After Sinco’s photograph of Miller was published in many newspapers, it became the center of discussion in different media houses and the social media. After CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather, hailed Miller’s photo for its excellence, the then un-identified Marine Corps was immediately referred to as a celebrity and a hero who touched the heart of many Americans. Sinco was then mandated to find the Marine Corps and conduct follow-up interview. Four days later, Sinco managed to trace Miller in an auditorium near Fallujah’s Civic Centre. Even though Miller was deeply embarrassed by the notoriety of the photo, he accepted to be interviewed by Sinco. After the interview, the two notably became the best friends. Miller’s heroism became evident after his identity was made public.
Popel in America and several countries sent him as a token of appreciation. He also received lots of cigarettes including packages from President George .W Bush of gifts including cigarettes, candy, and memorabilia from the White House (Page 525). To Miller’s surprise, after the command center featured a large blowup of photos, General Richard F. Natonski, the commander in charge of the first marine made a special trip to meet him. Contrary to the military norms, the general shook Miller’s hands and offered him a trip home (Page 525). Miller was to go home because the Americans had connected with his photo and no one wanted to see him dead or wounded. However, Miller turned down the offer and refused to leave his comrades behind.
Having dedicated his life to help and protect the people by fighting for their freedom from the hands of the terrorist, Miller is remembered for being very brave. He worked with many women and men who could be classified as the modern day heroes. They went above and beyond the call for duty to strive and save the lives of innocent civilians. He selflessly recommended his unit for special citation due to the noble course they performed. Though Miller suffered a mental illness that almost led to depression, his photo was nominated for a Pulitzer in 2005. The same photograph became the best after it was appointed in 2011 by the slate for a list of New Classics. When we mention heroes in modern society, our mind should reflect on people who go beyond the expectations and selflessly serve others.
Akhtar, F. Z., Garabrant, D. H., Ketchum, N. S., & Michalek, J. E. (2004). Cancer in US Air Force veterans of the Vietnam war. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 46(2), 123-136.
Macfarlane, G. J., Thomas, E., & Cherry, N. (2000). Mortality among UK Gulf war veterans. The Lancet, 356(9223), 17-21.
Page, R. M. (2012). Marlboro and other usual brand choices by youth smokers in middle eastern countries. Journal of Youth Studies, 15(4), 519-539.