Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

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 (first) House impeachment committee. 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.

Note, we would later learn that two Republicans, in particular, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have shown what political courage looks like and have lost their jobs as a result. They have called the former president on the carpet for his involvement in the Big Lie and instigating an insurrection on the Capitol building. Like Yovanovitch, these two should be applauded for their heroism. They knew they would be vilified, but spoke out anyway. Why is that?

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.


27 thoughts on “Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

    • Thanks Erika. Too many think going with the flow is heroic. What they fail to realize is courage is standing up for what is right even when you swimming upstream. Some of these same folks think the former president is courageous – I think just the opposite. I think he is weak to bully people and promote himself over the needs of the people he is supposed to serve. Keith

      • He is defintitely not strong. He is stupid and stubborn and he still doesn’t get it that this is not the way things are working out in the end. As Einstein said: You cannot keep up the same behavior and expect a different outcome.
        And another quote to the heroes that have to swim upstream. The greatest changes and progress mankind experienced have always come from single people who went against the stream. Which reminds me again of a saying: Only dead fish swim with the stream…

  1. Excellent post, timely reminder of what a ‘hero’ actually is. What does it take to be a hero? Courage. Knowing the difference between right and wrong. Integrity. Putting the greater good ahead of one’s own personal benefit. The people you shine the light on here are indeed deserving of that title, ‘hero’. Thank you, Keith.

    P.S. I watched the movie “Harriet” after you first recommended it, and upon reading today’s post, I think I’ll watch it again this weekend!

    • Jill, many thanks. Well said. Enjoy “Harriett” again. It looks like the so-called and self-nominated MAGA hero is finally getting his come-uppance. Keith

      • Oh, I definitely will, my friend! Started it earlier this evening, but only got to about minute 25, as I had a Saturday Surprise post to prepare, and a kitchen to clean! I hope to get back to it for an hour before I go to bed!

        And on the election front! I got ‘breaking news’ alerts tonight that made me WHOOP with joy! Both Mark Kelly (Senate) and Adrian Fontes (Sec’y of State) won their races in Arizona, beating out Blake Masters and Mark Finchem, the two maga candidates!

    • Annie, thanks. There were so many more I could have included like Katherine Johnson highlighted in “Hidden Figures” about NASA. Thanks for your thoughts. Keith

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Time to look away from elections for a few minutes and take a look at some real-life heroes that our friend Keith is shining a light on today. Thank you, Keith, for such an inspiring post, for showing us the courage of those who have truly earned the title ‘hero’.

  3. Truly inspiring and might I add who knows how much more Turing would have done if they hadn’t discovered his personal preference in 1950.

    • 9erick, good point. This hero was tormented for his sexual preference. It was around the sane time the US started its Lavendar Scare tactics firing gays and lesbians from government positions even if they were very proficient. Fear begets bigotry which begets maltreatment. Keith

  4. Pingback: Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  5. Interesting – enjoyed that, thank you. I have watched ‘Harriet’ a couple of times; it is – she was – inspiring. Turing was an undoubted genius, but the work of others at Bletchley Park is often overlooked – Gordon Welchman is one example. In reality, how many years/lives were saved by the work of all at Bletchley is unquantifiable and it certainly was not all done to one individual. Love the idea of trying to define a hero – certainly somebody who swims against the tide, otherwise how would they shine?

  6. Many thanks. I am glad you mention the others at Bletchley. It was indeed a team effort. From the movie “The Imitation Game” about breaking the Nazi Enigma code, it was a group of women who noted the personal chatter at the beginning of each Nazi communique. It gave Turing’s team a baseline to build from. I also enjoyed the series “The Bletchley Circle” where a few former Bletchley women solved crimes. Keith

  7. Note to Readers: After Richardson and Ruckelshaus were fired for refusing to fire Archibald Cox, a man named Robert Bork was brought in to fire Cox. You may remember that name as Bork was nominated for the Supreme Court by George HW Bush. Bork’s nomination was voted down, I believe in part for his role in doing heavy lifting for a crooked president named Nixon.

  8. Note to Readers: I have written several times before about a hero named Dr. Vivien Thomas, a black surgeon who partnered with a white surgeon at Johns Hopkins to develop a surgical technique to prevent blue babies from dying. The technique was highlighted in a movie called “Something the Lord made” referring to the elegance of the fix that adapted to the heart as the child and heart grew in size. Thomas was initially not allowed in the operating room because of his color. Yet, his partner beseeched he be allowed in as Thomas had a more deft hand at doing the surgery as he had been a master carpenter before becoming a doctor.

  9. I haven’t seen that movie, Keith but will look it up. I have heard about most of these inspirational heroes! Especially Greta and those willing to speak out against political wrongs at the expense of their career. Turing was a genius and the world doesn’t yet understand how grateful they should be to him. Cracking that code was mind-bogglingly difficult.

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