One of the jewels of the Westminster Civic Center area is the Sid Goldstein Freedom Park, with which is mated the Vietnam War Memorial. Many patriotic events and rallies are held there at the location on All American Way, just south of Coastline Community College’s Le Jao Center.
But most people don’t know who Sid Goldstein was, what he did, and his connection to the city that honors him. The story is one that rivals the fictional accomplishments of any warrior from the movies and TV.
Originally from a small town in New York, Goldstein was one of the great American war heroes of World War II. His most glorious moment took place on Sept. 21, 1944 near the town of Santa Margherita.
The then-Second Lieutenant Goldstein was assigned to lead a small force of infantrymen to take a hill from German soldiers. Despite heavy enemy fire and some casualties, Goldstein and his men advanced up the slope, capturing at first four, then 42 more, then 16 more in their successful action.
What made the incident so remarkable is that the young lieutenant – he was 24 at the time – single-handedly approached the enemy position to accept the offer of surrender of the dozens of Wehrmacht troopers made by a German officer. In spite of the possibility of treachery or an ambush, Goldstein went ahead and was the key factor in the capture of nearly six dozen of the enemy, enabling a breakthrough in the Gothic Line of Axis forces in Italy.
For his actions that day, he was honored with the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest honor in the U.S. Army, ranking just below the (Congressional) Medal of Honor. He was also decorated by the Italian government and ended the war as a major.
After the war, “Shimmy” – as he was known to friends and family – married, fathered a son and a daughter and eventually settled in Westminster. Active in veteran’s affairs and other civic interests, he passed away at the age of 82. The Sid Goldstein Freedom Park, together with a plaque reciting his heroics, was established in 2007.
Categories: History of Orange County