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Coastal Voices: Heroes — There are more than you may realize

What is a hero?

It is an American trait to have heroes. Sports heroes, movie heroes, natural disaster heroes, military heroes and personal heroes.

Unfortunately, some heroes fade away and new heroes rise to take their place.

Since we are so close to Veterans Day, our thoughts turn to our military heroes. The definition of hero is often given only to those who have a chest full of medals for outstanding bravery. However, heroes come in many other sizes and shapes.

Many men and women are heroes who don’t have all those medals and citations. Ask any mother whose child gave up a few years of life to serve in capacities that contributed to keep American free.

For every combat soldier, sailor or marine, there were many more people who didn’t see foreign soil or action, but made their contributions in keeping the paperwork flowing, the supply lines full — an endless list of duties that kept combat troops functioning.

Think of the Women’s Army Corps members who flew airplanes to replenish those shot down. And the Waves, their Navy counterparts, who did the paperwork so that able-bodied men could keep the fleet at sea ready. They are heroes also.

Go a little further and see others who had their lives disrupted, school, careers, family planning and work put on hold to serve. Draftees who would have rather stayed at home gave into the call that our country needed to protect the American way and their families. They are heroes too.

Think of the doctors and nurses who gave up lucrative civilian opportunities to answer the call of freedom. They are heros too.

Even from the entertainment field, stars put their careers on hold to serve because America needed them. They are heroes too.

Think of the Merchant Marines who faced unprotected fates in order to get the supplies to the battlefront. Many of these were physically unfit and couldn’t get in the regular services, but the call to duty was answered. They are heroes too.

In face, everyone who served in any capacity is a hero. Their families suffered the same fear and loneliness as did every other family.

We have a number of veterans groups right here in Crescent City. For an eye-opener, visit one of them and see for yourself the personal reminders of what these people  endured for your freedom. There are not just a bunch of old-timers sitting around swapping “sea stories” and wannabe battlefield heroics, but Americans who fought and served under the oath, “For God and country,” and concern for the future of this nation.

There is of course the VFW, the American Legion, the Viet Now, the Marine Corps League, the Disabled Americans and their auxiliary. We have a VA clinic and veterans service officer to assist those heroes who left part of themselves behind to protect the rest of us.

These groups all work constantly to serve the community by donations to our schools, various youth activities, scholarships and public functions. Veterans want to help keep America free by encouraging others to respect our flag and our heritage.

So when the Veterans Day parade marches down our streets, be there to salute our flag and see the heroes who made it possible for you to do so.

Ed Fleshman is the local VFW chaplain. Let him know about upcoming veterans events for future columns by emailing him at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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