Do you know any quiet heroes? There are probably more of them than we might imagine, since they are so easily overlooked. Quiet heroes often struggle on their inner battlefield, but even when their challenges are external and public, quiet heroes seldom call attention to themselves.
When you meet them, quiet heroes seem quite unexceptional; they don’t distinguish themselves by being the strongest or the brightest or the coolest people in the room. Quiet heroes are folks who do what’s right, and they keep right on doing it, regardless of the risk to themselves or their personal self-interest. Quiet heroes are neither famous nor fancy, nor are they proud. They simply do what is necessary, what is caring and what is right…which, as it turns out, is not to simple at all.
A contemporary quiet hero, Sylvia L. Ramsey (whom I mentioned in a previous blogpost) has written a memoir of the great battles she has faced. The book is called Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith, and Guts: Bladder Cancer, COPD, Caregiving, Polio and More. And, quiet hero that she is, Sylvia is donating the book’s profits to a cause that serves others.
The world depends upon the clarity and courage of quiet heroes. Yet they are seldom adequately appreciated in their own lifetime. Even worse, they may be made to suffer for their efforts, as was the case with this quiet World War II hero in Switzerland.
Paul Grueninger defied the cynical and cruel laws of Swiss “neutrality” and chose to help Jews fleeing the Nazi death machine. His decency and compassion cost him his job, his pension, his social standing and more. For decades his daughters fought to restore his good name. They succeeded, but too late for him to see.
Quiet heroes arise in all times and places. In the 1970s, Marie Ragghianti, was a single mom with a stubborn, clear sense of right and wrong. She uncovered widespread corruption in Tennessee, where public officials were selling pardons to hardened criminals, including convicted murderers and rapists. Marie risked her livelihood, her reputation, even her life in the process – but like those other quiet heroes, she kept on for years until she, and justice – prevailed. Peter Maas tells her story in Marie: A True Story.
So look for the quiet heroes around you. Notice them. Thank them. Support them, and be inspired.