In today's world I think we would most think of heroes and heroines as athletes or politician.
But the true heroes and heroines are every day ordinary people who do things that are people are afraid or cannot do.
We lost such a person last week. Her name was Miep Gies. I think very few people will recognize her name. But I think most people will recognize the name of Anne Frank. Miep Gies helped hide Anne Frank and her family and others from the Nazis for two years. Gies was:
the last of the "helpers," the six non-Jews who smuggled food, books, writing paper and news of the outside world to the secret attic apartment of the canal-side warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid during World War II.Gies tried to bribe police to release the Franks but it was to no avail. She went back to the room where the Franks were hidden and it is then she discovered Anne's diary. The world has Gies to thank for saving such an important book. When Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam, Gies gave him the diary. She helped in compiling the diary and then was a tireless worker campaigning against Holocaust deniers.
But she never considered herself a hero:
But Geis is a hero. She acted with incredible humanity and courage. While other people let the Nazis take whomever, Geis risked her life to help the Franks without a second thought to her safety. And that is being a hero. She described herself as an ordinary housewife and secretary. Well let me say, we could do with a few more of those ordinary housewives and secretaries today.
Gies brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved. "This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday in February.
She resisted being made a character study of heroism for the young.
"I don't want to be considered a hero," she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.
"Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."
God speed Miep Gies. God speed.