Ishmael Beah

by Dylan from Pickerington

A hero is somebody that you can look up to. Somebody that puts other's needs before their own. They don't necessarily have to be in a cape and tights, but they do have to have courage and bravery. A hero needs to have good instincts. In my eyes, a hero is someone that influences people for good.

If a hero is someone that influences you, then I think that everyone does need their own hero. Everybody needs to have an influence while they are growing up to help face them toward the right path. A hero is needed to develop a foundation to make you a better character in life. I have a hero and I believe everyone else should have one as well.

The character in the book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" that I think portrays a hero is Ishmael Beah. The boy should be known as a hero because of the pain and suffering he went through, and in the end, he still came out on top. He influences other kids throughout the story that participated in the war to be rehabilitated like himself and remove themselves from all violence. A passage from the book that showed Ishmael's rehabilitation said, "None of these things are your fault," she said. Even though I had heard that phrase from every staff member - and frankly I had always hated it - I began that day to believe it," (Beah 165). This quote would make other kids that were in the war influenced to push forward and forget about all of the harsh memories. Another quote, "I was just happy to have had the chance to perform again, in peace," (Beah 169) gives others hope that they could also go back to their old lifestyle before the war. The final quote, "I was talking at gatherings in Freetown about child soldiering and how it must be stopped. "We can be rehabilitated." I would emphasize," (Beah 169) shows how Ishmael actually did go to gatherings and speak about how child soldiers can be brought back to reality. Ishmael Beah is indefinitely a hero as he has gone through the most brutal of all experiences, and came out on top.

I believe that Ishmael Beah should be inducted into the Hero Hall of Fame because he has probably gone through the worst experiences any man could endure and he still came out of it all as a well-rounded person. Ishmael is a model to any person out there and should be known as not just a hero, but a savior. The influence he has made has probably saved thousands of lives from emotional torture. His story is heartbreaking and inspiring as well. When I read this book I started to look up to him. I want to be like Ishmael Beah when I grow up because he's a man that can take anything thrown at him and still go on with his life. He doesn't just "go on with his life" either, that's the thing. He tries to be better and better and always succeeds. Any man that can do all of the things that Ishmael has done should definitely be in the Hero Hall of Fame.

Interview with Ishmael:

Q: What qualities do you deem important in a hero?
A: I think to be a hero you have to change someone's life. A hero would be someone that has so much on influence on people that they've turned their lives completely around.

Q: Who is your personal hero and why?
A: My personal hero would have to be Esther, my nurse that helped me get through all of the repressed memories and rehabilitated me completely. If I didn't have someone like her around to talk to I don't think I could've done it. I devote my life to her because she made me what I am today. Thank you Esther.

Q: What qualities do you frown upon in someone that is seen as a role model?
A: The worst quality a child role model could have is being violent. Violence has corrupted the world completely and I think that people on television that kids look up to need to watch their act more so than they are.

Q: What qualities do you think you have that are key to being a hero?
A: I don't really look at myself as a hero. Just an ordinary person who has gone through some extraordinary events. But if I had to answer I would say that I have courage. When things get tough I keep going. I think all people should have an attitude like that.

Q: Do you think that all soldiers should be counted as heroes considering all of the killing they do?
A: I regret everything that I have done in war and I don't think that any of that attributes to me being considered a hero. So, I do not. The only ones that should be called heroes are the ones fighting for a good cause. The rebels definitely would not be considered leaders.

Q: What was one of the most valuable lessons you've learned through all of this?
A: Never give up. No matter how hard it gets just keep pushing forward because you will pull through.

Q: A lot of heroes start to gain leadership qualities, do you feel like a leader?
A: Yes, people have followed me and listened to the things I have said at gatherings, so I do feel like a leader.

Q: Do you think that people need to have heroes?
A: I do. I had a lot of people to look up to as I grew up, but after the attack I had no one so I didn't really know better than to join the army to save myself and do all of the drugs that came with joining.

Q: Was it hard to quit the drugs you took and refrain from your ways in war?
A: About as hard as it was to get to that point. It was painful. The migraines from detox were the worst of all. I always thought about getting drugs somewhere at the rehab center and fought all the time. It took a long time before I could stop the violence from coming out.

Q: Have you always been courageous?
A: I would say no. I sort of developed that sense of bravery once I had been on my own for a while. After that, I wasn't really afraid of anything but the rebels. Once I joined the army, I wasn't afraid of them either.

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

Child Soldiers - This website is a coalition to stop the use of child soldiers in combat. Like Ishmael was.


Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007.


Author Info

Ishmael Beah is a character in the book "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier." He is forcefully recruited into war after his village was attacked and burnt to the ground and his parents killed.