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article imageThe cost of heroism: Sacrifice and surrender

By Nikki Weingartner     Apr 1, 2009 in Lifestyle
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, professions and educational backgrounds. The common link is that true heroes make a difference by going above and beyond. For two modern day heroes, those amazing feats should never be forgotten.
Stories of heroes are often flashy, with superhuman forms possessing amazing powers and of course, capes flapping in the wind. They are the dreams from which children's creativity is spawned. However, children today aren't able to return home after a day of school and watch their favourite hero save the world. In fact, kids these days are focusing on shows like Total Drama Island and Johnny Test to fill that after school void.
Heroes are those who step outside of the norm, exceeding the status-quo in order to accomplish great things. Sometimes its landing a plummeting passenger plane into an icy river without a single fatality. Other times, it is pulling yourself out of the ghetto and doing the right thing and making good choices to earn a sports scholarship. However, for some, being a hero is part of being a military soldier fighting for what they believe in.
In April of 2008, one such hero named Michael Monsoor, a Master-At-Arms 2nd Class and machine-gunner with the US Navy SEALs was honoured posthumously for doing his duty providing recon to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Iraqi troops in the insurgent-controlled city of Ramadi. In a selfless act of courage on September 29, 2006, Monsoor, just 25-years-old, sacrificed his own life and escape from danger by throwing himself on a grenade that was tossed onto the rooftop where he and two other SEALs were located in an effort to save the life of his fellow SEALs. His heroic actions were successful, as both of his teammates lived.
Monsoor's family was presented with his Medal of Honor, the first SEAL and the fourth service member of any branch of service to receive the medal during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
A more recent news story shows an entirely different side of heroism, as another soldier has begun to look at life through a new set of eyes following his tragedy.
PFC Hunter Levine, a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier told loved ones last year before he deployed to Iraq that “He would die for us if need be.” And as a story on KHOU explained:
A roadside bomb, an explosively-formed perpetrator (EFP), came through the windshield and headed directly for Levine’s face. When the EFP exploded on May 9, 2008, in East Baghdad, the molten steel cut Levine's jaw in half. Shrapnel went in one side of his face and out the other. The bomb also killed two civilians and wounded a fellow soldier, who was in the Humvee with Levine.
When Levine woke up days later in an Army hospital, much of his face and both eyes were gone.
The Houston story aired March 31 and showed a true hero, able to overcome his pain and find a reason to continue. During Levine's story, he told how even those famous handshakes and a visit from President Obama himself "couldn't soothe the painful realization that his life, as he once saw it, was over."
His pain and suffering captured the hearts of so many who wanted to help and indeed, that is what they did.
Hearts for Hunter, a website set up to show support for Hunter Levine, has brought in thousands of real-time cards and letters showing love and caring words for PFC Levine. About 800 pounds of tangible love! He is even currently in the process of finalizing a non-profit organization designed to assist severely injured soldiers with setting up their own sites so they too, can receive the showing of support provided to Levine. He chooses to make the proverbial lemonade by helping who he says "someone out there is a lot worse off than me.”
His selfless act of duty left him without sight but his continued determination to overcome extenuating circumstances and make a difference makes him a true hero. The support of his friend, Blake Meaux, and countless others helped turn this tragedy into a heartfelt story of kindness and love. All things good.
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