Thursday, September 10, 2015
Louis Goldstein - Who Is Really a Hero?
Louis Goldstein, a Veteran of the Army Reserve from Hutchinson, has been described as a “pillar in the community” for Veterans returning wounded from a tour of duty. While under fire on a deployment in Afghanistan, he suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and was awarded the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and an Army Commendation Medal. Goldstein works with the Wounded Warrior Project in the Twin Cities, where he is the Alumni Manager and helps those suffering from traumatic injury in wars since 9/11. He is also a 2014 Veterans’ Voices Awardee.
Recently, while traveling, I was approached by a gentleman who asked if I had served in the military (I was wearing a t-shirt that had a military theme). I stated that I have, and still do continue to serve, thinking that he would thank me for my service and be on his way. This was not the case. He did thank me, but added that he thought what I was doing was heroic. This gentleman knew nothing more of my service other than that I had served in the military in some capacity and in some way, shape, or form still serve our country.
While I appreciated his kind words and his appreciation for my service, the term heroic struck me. I have come to despise the term ‘hero’ for its overuse in regards to military service. I do not think of myself as a hero and many -- if not all -- military service members who I have spoken to about the term hero would say the same. There is nothing implicitly heroic about serving in the military. This over use of the word hero has diluted its meaning and purpose to the point that we as a society cannot truly identify real heroes.
As an active participant in the Wounded Warrior Project and a 2014 Veterans’ Voices Awardee, I have witnessed many heroic actions. Tomorrow, on September 11th, the Minnesota Humanities Center will again celebrate and honor Minnesota Veterans for their service to this country and continued leadership in their communities. These Veterans may well be heroes, but not just because they served in the military, but because they continue to work for the good of their communities and those who rely on them in their own hometowns.
The next time you feel yourself wanting to call a Veteran or a member of the military a hero, stop and ask yourself, why? What is it that makes someone a hero? Does the Veteran or member of the military you are addressing possess those qualities, or do you just feel compelled by society to use that word?