Don Heinzman column: We all need heroes

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Don Heinzman

Don Heinzman

As we research those who want our vote and examine their qualities, this might be a good time to ask yourself if you have a hero.

In an excellent column written by Bob Ramsey in ECM publications, he asks that question of senior citizens.

Ramsey says there is a scarcity of heroes. He says we can’t depend on athletes who often are convicted of drug use, gambling, domestic violence and scandals. Even sexual abuse by the clergy has made us suspect them.

He says we all need heroes “as role models to inform, instruct and inspire us to live better and be better.”

Ramsey says young people need heroes to teach them values, inspire them to be their best and serve as examples of living a worthy life.

As a retired assistant school superintendent, Ramsey says older folks need heroes to show them how to be brave, finish strong and keep doing the next right thing until the end.

“We need heroes to encourage us to be truth-tellers and teach us how to live with grace, die with dignity and leave a lasting legacy,” he writes.

When I think of someone who has been a hero to many, I think of the late Elmer L. Andersen – business executive, state senator, newspaper publisher, university regent and family man.

Elmer, as we knew him, cared about people and devoted his life to helping them, whether at HB Fuller Company, the state Capitol or in our newsrooms.

Above all he was a consummate salesman who knew how to convince customers, legislators and readers of the value of his ideas.

He had high standards and through his persistence led us to accomplish what we thought was not possible. He reminded us it took 10 years to establish the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

He was a Rotary district governor, a naturalist who is still beloved by those at the Minnesota Arboretum, a book collector, avid reader and talented opinion writer. A library bears his name at the University of Minnesota.

Elmer took an interest in all of us, congratulating us personally on achievements and comforting us when we failed or lost a loved one.

He touched many lives and challenged us to do more with graceful acts and caring hearts.

Ramsey writes: “Authentic heroes are everyday people who live fully and honestly, are true to their values and do what’s right even when it is unpopular. They help others, give back and leave things better than they found them. Lives don’t get better than that.”

Finally, he asks: “Who are your heroes? If you don’t have one, get one. Better yet, be one.”


Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.


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