Half a dozen heroes to think about

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay in 1940 rather than 1950? Would those 750,000 people have died?

Two men who should get more acclaim are Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. What did they do? In October, 1973, they refused in succession to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon and were themselves fired. This was the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. Nixon called the Watergate investigation a “witch hunt” and said repeatedly “I am not a crook.” He was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t and he was.

A current hero is only sixteen years old, Greta Thunberg, the climate change activist from Sweden. She has inspired tens of millions kids, teens and adults in urging the need for more climate change action. I find her candor and can-do attitude refreshing. She has gotten the attention of legislators, but they need to act. We are behind where we need to be.

The other current hero is former US ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. She was the first to testify to the House impeachment committees. Her political courage and respect for the US constitution is enviable. Her testimony led others to also brave testimony, especially in light of a vindictive president who they reiterated abused his powers. I cannot emphasize their courage enough, as more than a few Republican legislators feel the same but are not as courageous and fear the wrath of the president and his base.

Going against the grain in the face of adversity should be valued. Tubman freed herself and traversed over one hundred miles alone. Then she went back at great personal risk and freed more people. I applaud her and these other five people. We all should.

16 thoughts on “Half a dozen heroes to think about

  1. There are so many awesome and selfless people who do live or lived what we call unconditional love. When I read your post, I thought of Oskar Schindler too, who saved the lives of 1200 Jewish people from being killed in the concentration camps by the NS. When the war was over he broke down and felt even guilty desperate of not having saved more lives.

      • True. What we don’t appreciate now, but the German citizens were obligated to report on suspicious behavior. In other words, the Nazi Party required people to spy on their neighbors. So, Schindler’s bravery was even more incredible.

  2. Note to Readers: This morning I saw on CBS Sunday Morning a piece on Mitch and Jeanine Albom and their selfless efforts to establish an orphanage and school in Haiti following the earthquakes. The author of “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People you meet in Heaven,” drafted about thirty volunteers to build, electrify and plumb the school and orphanage. Albom noted these 47 kids had never seen a working shower. He has written a book about one little girl called “Remembering Chika” who passed away due to a brain tumor. These two people are heroes.

  3. Great points Keith. I love all of your examples. I saw the movie about Alan Turing with Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing. An excellent movie. I learned a lot because I didn’t know much about him. Definitely a hero. A tragedy though about how he was shunned and imprisoned simply because of his sexual preference. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way in society since those days. But, we still have a long way to go. Excellent post.

    • Thanks Jeff. I saw that movie as well. It is a shame people had to hide their sexual prefences. Of course, we had the government sanctioned “lavendar scare” here in the US, where very capable people had to leave public service. Keith

      • Jeff, true. I heard a great line from Gloria Steinem, when she was asked about young women who cannot appreciate the improvements over time and what it was like before. She said I want them to be angry about how much more change is needed. We have come a long way, but we are not where we need to be. To her point, I read this morbing that 48% of Duke coeds and 45% of UNC coeds have been of non-consensual sexual touching and rape. Keith

  4. That’s a great list, Keith. I’m currently reading a novel by Ta Nehisi Coates that is based upon Harriet Tubman’s importance to the Underground Railroad. The book is amazing. “The Water Dancer.” I’m eager to see Harriet.

  5. I wasn’t aware that a new movie had been made about Harriet Tubman, but on reading your post, I went to Amazon and pre-ordered it! When I used to teach a course on Black History, Ms. Tubman was among my favourites to talk about. And I certainly agree with your other selections … they are all heroes in my book. Seems that some people don’t quite understand the meaning of the word “hero”, and I can only shake my head when some athlete is dubbed a ‘hero’ because he made the winning touchdown or some other feat. He’s getting paid millions of dollars to do just that … how does that make him a hero? Ah well … thankfully we have the Greta Thunbergs and Alan Turings to look up to, and to follow their example. Great post. Thank you!

  6. Note to Readers: One of my friends suggested the inclusion of Dr. William Barber, who started the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. He is now president of the Poor People’s Movement. My oldest son and I participated in one of his Moral Monday gatherings in Raleigh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.