Ishmael Beah

by Nithya Raya from Pickerington

Ishmael Beah and his book, <i>A Long Way Gone: Me
Ishmael Beah and his book, A Long Way Gone: Me

Who is a hero? A hero can be anyone you want it to be. In my opinion, a hero is someone who does great things for someone without being asked to do it. He/She does a great deed because their heart tells them to do it, not because they are forced to do it. A hero can also be someone who leads their people when in a bad time. They put their own lives on the line to save or help the people they love. Whoever does this is considered a hero in my mind.

Are heroes important to have? I say, "Yes!" Heroes are like role models and if you don't have role models, then you don't have anyone to look up to. Think of when blacks were set apart from whites and segregation took place. The blacks were scared to stand up and do something about it because they thought that the whites might harm them. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for his people and was not only a great leader, but a great hero as well. If he had never stood up, I don't know what our world would be like now. People like him put their lives on the line so that they can help their loved ones. Without heroes, we would be nowhere.

In the novel, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, heroes can be found everywhere. The most important hero, throughout this book, is Ishmael Beah. In this book, Ishmael Beah says many things that show how he really is a hero. One instance is when he says, "I wanted to blame someone for this particular predicament, but there was no one to be blamed. We had made a logical decision and it had come to this" (Beah 29). This shows that he is a hero because he is admitting that if anyone is to be blamed, he should be included. In another instance, Beah says, " I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I've come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end..." (Beah 199). In this quote, Ishmael Beah is acting like a leader by saying that if you keep fighting, your enemies will also fight back and the war will never end, causing your whole life to fly by without you even knowing it. A third heroic quote is when he says, "The prisoner was simply another rebel who was responsible for the death of my family, as I had come to truly believe. The corporal gave the signal with a pistol shot and I grabbed the man's head and slit his throat in one fluid motion" (Beah 125). Here, Beah is acting like a hero because he will do anything, even kill, to keep him and his friends safe from the rebels. These three quotes help portray why Ishmael Beah is a hero.

If anyone should be inducted into a hero hall of fame, it should be Ishmael Beah. He is one of the many children who were forced into the army just so that they could get some food and a shelter. Ishmael Beah fought many days and nights to keep himself alive and hope that one day he would meet one of his family members and live the peaceful life that he had missed in his childhood. If you read the quotes from the last paragraph, you will see why he is a war hero. Ishmael has many heroic characteristics such as, his bravery, courage, and great leader qualities. He is also caring towards his friends when in trouble and the most important thing is, because he went through so many tough times in his life, he will do anything to prevent kids from going into war now and becoming child soldiers. Ishmael will not stop speaking against child soldiers until young boys are rightfully not allowed to participate in any war. This makes him a great hero and shows you why he should be inducted into a hero hall of fame.

Interviewer: Hi, Ishmael! Nice to meet you. I have some questions for you. First of all, what do you feel about boy soldiers?

Ishmael: Soldiers are adults who choose to put their lives on the line and know what they are getting into. Children should not be allowed or forced into war just so that they can survive. They need to first live their childhood and then, as adults, decide whether they want to join the war or not.

Interviewer: What do you feel was the worst thing about being a boy soldier?

Ishmael: The worst thing was that I had no family close to me. All my immediate family members died early in the war. I had no one to speak with freely or enjoy my time with. Even though I had some friends, if my family was alive, I would definitely rather have been with them.

Interviewer: Now, you must be many people's hero today. But, who is your hero?

Ishmael: My personal hero is Esther, my nurse at the rehabilitation center I was sent to.

Interviewer: Of all the people you met as a soldier, why is Esther your personal hero?

Ishmael: Even though I did meet tons of people who helped me and guided me while I was a boy soldier, Esther was the only one who actually listened to my war stories and she cared for me the most. I consider her as my family.

Interviewer: Do you think heroes are important in one's life?

Ishmael: Heroes are definitely important because if you don't have role models to look up to, then you won't know what to do when you are having a bad day. Then, you might fall apart because you won't be able to think of someone who can help you.

Interviewer: Do you consider yourself as a hero?

Ishmael: I honestly do not know the answer to that question. If you want a true answer, you should probably ask the people that read my book.

Interviewer: What characteristics do you think heroes should have?

Ishmael: Well...every hero is different, so there aren't really certain characteristics that all heroes have. Some characteristics that can be considered heroic are that they never give up, they always do as much as they can (never less), and they can be great leaders.

Interviewer: Do you think any fellow soldiers should also be considered heroes?

Ishmael: I think that everyone who fought in this war should be considered a hero. They all put their lives on the line to save their villages and their people. In my eyes, they are all brave and courageous heroes.

Interviewer: Why do you think the good people are the ones that become heroes, instead of the bad people?

Ishmael: If you are looking up at someone as a role model, you wouldn't think of a bad person as a hero because otherwise you would be going down the wrong path. If you think of a good person as a hero, then you will be influenced to do good things.

Interviewer: Last of all, if you could tell everyone one important thing, what would it be?

Ishmael: Never give up on anything or anyone. If you don't keep trying something, then you will never know whether you could have succeeded or not. When I was trying to escape and get away from the war, I never gave up. Now, I am happily living in New York City, as far away from the war in my village.

Interviewer: Thank you for giving us your thoughts on some of these questions. By telling us some of your experiences, we can better understand what you had to go through. Thank you once again.

Page created on 4/7/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/7/2011 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

A Long Way Gone - This is a webpage for Ishmael Beah's book.
The Ishmael Beah Foundation - This foundation was set up to help children who were affected by the war.

Author Info

I am a freshman at Pickerington High School Central. I recently read a book called A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. It was written by Ishmael Beah and explains what he had to go through as a child from Sierra Leone. I am dedicating this hero webpage to him in recognition of all the tough and rough times he went through as a child. No child should ever have to live their childhood as a soldier.