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Goshay

Last week, President Trump vehemently denied the details of an exposé in The Atlantic alleging his disparagement of prisoners of war and dead and disabled soldiers, calling them "suckers" and "losers," though Fox News and the Associated Press have independently confirmed it happened.

The four anonymous sources cited in editor Jeffrey Goldberg's story are likely more substantive than the unidentified sources the president frequently cites when he says "Many people are saying ..."

The reason the scandal seems plausible to the president's critics is because of what he has said in our own hearing.

On Monday, the president held a press conference to deny that he disrespected the military, then proceeded to do just that.

He forced the Vindman twins out of their Army careers after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified during his impeachment hearings in 2019.

In 2015, when asked about the late Sen. John McCain's heroism, then-candidate Donald Trump replied: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who don't get captured."

There's hard-knock competition in politics, yet there's also a kinship among those in national service. Trump, however, was asked not to attend McCain's memorial service.

Who gets blacklisted from a funeral?

The president's definition of heroism is interesting, considering that people who have been captives include Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chen Wei, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.

At some point, they were considered losers, failures, even lunatics; mere annoyances to be crushed and forgotten. But destiny always has the last say. Today, virtually every one of them is venerated as heroic.

Those taken in captivity for a righteous cause have vision beyond the moment. They endure by staying focused on the greater good.

The young Americans who now rest beneath foreign sod far from home were not losers for going where they were sent.

Risking one's life to ensure that others may live in peace and freedom is hardly the action of a dupe or a mark.

In fact, it's scriptural.

Cantonian Floyd Hughes was a young army mechanic when he was dispatched to France, never to return from the bloody Battle of the Argonne, where he died on Sept. 30, 1918. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.

Canton Mayor Charles Stollberg, who certainly had excuse enough not to serve, nonetheless did, resigning his office and dying in 1917.

Everyone has been a captive at some point in life, be it from a serious illness, a bad relationship or circumstances bereft of hope.

In an age when suffering is to be avoided at all costs, the experiences hold lessons for us if we're only brave enough to heed them.

There are all kinds of captivity, by the way.

You can slather yourself in false bravado, lies, cruelty and braying ignorance and still be a captive.

You can surrender a lifetime of integrity for temporal power, only to be trapped in smoldering wreckage of your compromise.

History shows us, over and over, that the world is always advanced by those among us who are willing to risk all in the service of others; something people who neither value nor appreciate heroism can ever understand.

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Charita M. Goshay is a nationally syndicated columnist for Gatehouse News Service. She is a native of Canton, Ohio, and a graduate of Kent State University where she majored in communications. Goshay has been employed at the Canton Repository since 1990. She can be reached at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.

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