A hero is an individual who acts in a manner that is beyond what is expected of him/her and saves lives or prevents the occurrence of an event with dire consequences to those it would affect. A hero can also be described a person with unusual physical strengths and courage and uses them for the benefit of others and others in the society at large. The acts of heroism may also be viewed as having moral courage of doing the right thing and advocating of what is fair and just without favor despite the consequences of the action. Heroes act in selfless manner and with no intention of benefiting themselves. Their actions in most cases, involves putting their lives on a risk, doing a more than is required of them, and even at times associating with people that they are least expected to associate with. Heroes in most cases engage in their heroic acts willingly and the motivation to act is prompted by the need to save lives or offer in assistance. In the book, Killers of the Flower Moon, Tom White is clearly a hero as most of his actions indicate.
Tom serves as a special agent of the Bureau based in the field office in Houston. White had served in the Texas Ranger where his life had mainly involved being on a horse-back in the Southwestern frontier armed with a Winchester rifle or pearl-handled six-shooter. Here, he was mainly engaged on the role of tracking fugitives, murderers and stick up men. Before joining the Bureau, he had targeted to join the army for the World War 1 but a recent surgery had prevented him from doing it. This presented an opportunity for White to serve his country as a special agent. His early days at the Bureau were years after it had just been formed and had very few agents who were engaged in the process of strict fact-gathering. Agents then, were not allowed to carry guns despite the risks that faced them such as death. This had at one point made White consider abandoning his call (Grann).
One action that points to White being hero was based on his perverse habit of not wanting to engage in shooting. This did not make him a bad agent but rather indicated that despite not having no formal training as a law enforcement officer and the difficultness he had faced in using scientific methods in investigation, he had managed to hone his skills and become competent in pointing out underlying patterns and turn scattered fact into a taut narrative. White was always armed to the teeth for and dangerous assignments. His moral perception that can be regarded as heroic was how he had managed to separate the dark instincts that differentiated a good man and a bad one ((Grann). He managed to overcome turning to an immoral and corrupt agent even when under the leadership of Director Burns who had bent laws to shield profiteers, corrupt officials, and members of the underworld. He took it upon himself to lead an honest life as an agent, as one of his junior indicated, “He could be honest till hurt.”
White agreed the take charged on the investigation of the Osage murders by assuming command of the field office in the Oklahoma. This was a heroic act that indicated how he acted in a brave and fearless manner. The position would come with a lot of work due to lawlessness of the nation. He understood the importance of closing this case on the legacy of the Bureau and its director Hoover. He accepted to take the task despite understanding the consequences of this position include the strain to his family. He was aware of the fate that had befallen previous agents who had failed in the case; where some had been posted in far outposts, other cast out, and even several others facing deaths. Taking the deal was equivalent to placing a mark on his head. To White, the need to make sure that justice was served, outweighed any risks associated with the position (Grann).
White can be seen as a hero due to manner in which he cared for the men in hi investigation team. White made sure that he met his team at night and in the countryside to prevent exposing their identity as undercover operatives in the case that he was aware of the presence of a mole. He adviced them to always be on the lookout and make sure that they carried weapons at all times (Grann 106). He made them understand if it got to a point of defending themselves for their live, they were supposed to do a good job. As a ranger, he one time showed the care he had, when a new recruit to the company had been gunned down when attempting to stop an assault. Tom collected his body transported it to the home of his parents who were yet to come to terms with the death of their son. He made a bold move of not revenging his friend’s, N. P, Thomas death, despite experiencing a feeling of lawlessness that made him decide to leave the rangers.
White was very much concerned with solving the case that he put up a lot of time into the case. The effort seemingly pays off and the team felt a sense of growing progress. The Justice Department acknowledged the progress in his communication to Hoover that noted that ne angles had been successful developed and that this status offered new and enthusiastic spirit. He had unearthed a lot of insights to the case that indicated that most of the evidence that the Bureau had for the Osage murders had been fabricated and that this was among the main reason as to why the case had taken so long to be closed. He noted that the agents were never short of the lead to follow but rather had to many of the leads that they never had focused attention.
White’s acted in a heroic manner in his attempts of defending his men from his boss’, Hoover, anger. One such case is when one of White’s agents had failed to follow the standard format for a one-page report on the Osage Murder cases. However White absolved his agent and took the blame for have approved the report (Grann 169).
White took an approach that most of his predecessors never had the courage to take. Through his investigations on the Osage murder cases, he come to learn the corrupt white citizens would implicate an individual of their race in a case that involved the murder of an American Indian. He made a move to change his strategy. He would get a source from the outlaw groups of the Indians. These groups were disreputable, dangerous and considered as outlaws. This approach indicates the he treated all equally and with no racial biasness. He decided to work with Dick Gregg, a former leader of the Al Spencer Gang and was serving a ten-year sentence for robbery.
It is a heroic act for White to be concerned about Mollie Burkhart, who was related with Hale whom he was trying to gather evidence against. White’s concerns for Mollie are not just related to the possible contribution that she could make to the investigations on Osage Murder cases. The reports he had received about her being a sick with diabetes made him to be suspicious. Hale had paved way for Mollie to inherit her family member’s wealth by having the other family members killed. This had slightly given Hale access to the wealth through his nephew but not yet not full control which could only come if Mollie died. Mollie diabetes offered a leeway for poisoning her. The insulin jabs given by doctors seemed to worsen her condition as opposed to improving it. This was later proved to be true for after Mollie was out under other doctors her condition improved immediately.
With the cases of Osage Murders threatening the reputation of the Bureau due to lack of evidence to convict anybody, White did a heroic act that was a game-changer for the case and at the same time put his life on the line. He made arrests for Hale and Ernest Burkhart. This was despite that fact that he had not confirmed most of confessions he had received. He resolved to use Blackie Thompson, the very man who had embarrassed Hoover and considered an outcast by investigators when he had been released from prison to assist the bureau with investigation only for him to kill a police officer. It is this man, whom White to have information on the murders that he decided to turn to. He did this without consulting Hoover and in full realization that should he escape or hurt any person, his career would come to end. This simple courageous and heroic act was the start of key confessions and acquisition of witnesses who were to testify against Hale and Burkhart.
Grann, David. Killers of the flower moon: The Osage murders and the birth of the FBI. Doubleday, 2017.
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