Rest in peace Sir Nicholas Winton (1909 – 2015) This post was originally published in 2013
I have come to almost detest the word hero these days. I think it’s overused and it’s used incorrectly.
We have a funny idea in this country about what makes a person a “hero.” We have a weird obsession in this country with athletes and movie stars. We call pro-football players heroes. Why? What did they ever do to earn that moniker? What, exactly, does baseball hero really mean? Why is Bruce Willis a hero, when really he just plays one on the big screen?
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are celebrities and pro-athletes who do incredible things behind the scenes. They work with charities. They visit children in hospitals. And yes, they do sometimes rescue people.
Harrison Ford is not a hero because he played Han Solo and Indiana Jones, he’s a hero because he flew his helicopter in and rescued someone from the side of a mountain, and he’d probably tell you he was just doing his job. I’m pretty positive Drew Brees’s children view their dad as a hero. And if he’s done a lot off the gridiron for charity and community, then that’s wonderful. But being the quarterback who led the Saints to their first Super Bowl win in my lifetime – miraculous though it was – is not an act of heroism. Sorry, WhoDat Nation!
To me a hero is an ordinary person who does an extraordinary thing, sometimes with great personal risk involved. The hero does the extraordinary thing willingly and without hesitation. You can spot local heroes easily on your local newscasts. They’re the ones you’ll hear say things like, “No, I’m not a hero. I just did what anybody would do in that situation.” Heroes are people who make a huge difference in our lives. They save us from death. Bodily harm. Bullies. They also save us from ourselves. They keep us from going over the edge, from taking a leap into the abyss of insanity.
In the last few days I’ve seen a short video making the social network rounds. It is truly stunning in its simplicity, and it had me choked up and bawling within the first 10 seconds. I’m sharing it with you all today. If you haven’t seen it, please watch. This is what heroism is all about. I can’t sum it up any better than the YouTube description, so here it is:
Sir Nicholas Winton who organised the rescue and passage to Britain of about 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children destined for the Nazi death camps before World War II in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport. This video is the BBC Programme “That’s Life” aired in 1988. The most touching video ever.
This guy is a true hero.