And sometimes, the Pentagon helps them along.
This may be one of those times.
We don't know if Pat Tillman's brother Kevin and former Pfc. Jessica Lynch are being exploited by congressional Democrats in an attempt to embarrass the Pentagon. But we do know that if it's true that the Pentagon invented stories about Lynch's capture and eventual rescue in Iraq, and Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, then there should be serious repercussions for those who perpetrated the hoaxes.
If the cause is just and the soldiers are true - and we believe our soldiers almost always are - then why lie?
"The truth is always more heroic than the hype," Lynch told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform this week.
Lynch said she couldn't have put up the fierce fight the Army boasted she did, because the attack on her convoy twisted her spine and left her immobile with various fractures. She said she woke up in an Iraqi hospital.
One of Pat Tillman's fellow soldiers testified he was ordered, even threatened, not to reveal the nature of Tillman's death to his brother, who was also deployed in the area - ostensibly to save Kevin Tillman the added pain. But if it was to merely clear the way for a fictitious story of Pat Tillman's heroism amid enemy fire, then that's beyond wrong.
We all wanted to believe it - that Pat Tillman, a formerly well-paid pro football player with the Arizona Cardinals who volunteered to go into the teeth of battle for his country after 9-11, would have taken a bullet while charging the enemy like some real-life Sgt. Commando. But that false story was apparently put forth knowingly by the Pentagon. Again, that's just wrong.
Jessica Lynch is right: We like the real hero stories a lot better. And there are plenty to be had.
Jack Nicholson's Marine colonel in A Few Good Men famously growled at his courtroom inquisitor, "You can't handle the truth!"
That was always wrong.
Please, just tell us the truth. We can handle it.