America lost one of its great modern-day heroes Thursday, with the passing of 78-year-old Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

The general -- alternatively referred to as "The Bear" or "Stormin' Norman" -- was the commander of U.S. armed forces in the first Gulf War in 1991, leading the allied forces to a decisive and efficient victory over Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's effort to capture Kuwait.

Unlike the most recent campaign in Iraq, the first Gulf War had international support and was widely supported at home. Moreover, the United States and its allies suffered few casualties throughout the entire campaign.

At the war's end, Schwarzkopf was among the most popular figures in America, though reluctant to accept his role as a hero.

"I like to say I'm not a hero," Schwarzkopf wrote in his book, "It Doesn't Take a Hero." "I was lucky enough to lead a very successful war."

Nevertheless, Schwarzkopf retained his political independence, didn't seek to turn that popularity into political power, and remained largely on the sidelines in the discussion about the validity or success of the second war in Iraq.

His retirement was free of scandal, yet filled with meaningful work as a spokesperson for prostate cancer awareness, a board member for the Nature Conservancy and active in raising money for chronically ill children.

Few soldiers have served both a military and civilian life with as much distinction, honor and integrity as Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf -- whose legacy is an example to anyone who aims to live a life of meaning, dedication and purpose.

Editorial by the Hutchinson News