While visiting family in Kansas over the past couple weeks, I had an opportunity to feed my thirst for all things history-related, by visiting the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. This is a permanent exhibit dedicated solely to shining light on unsung heroes of past generations, through student-driven projects.
When I was studying history, I loved to find the stories of the lesser-known figures, who had done such beautiful work. Everyone has heard of Oskar Schindler, but who has heard of Irena Sendler, the Catholic social worker, credited with saving over 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto?
Most of us who paid attention in our basic social studies classes will remember the famous picture of Elizabeth Eckford walking toward classes at her local Arkansas high school, during the height of the civil rights movement.
But, how many of us know Elizabeth Eckford’s name? How many of us know that she still suffers from PTSD from the horrible racism she faced that day, and in subsequent days? Still more, how many of us know of the two white students who befriended her, as they sat in a classroom together? Those two students, Ken Reinhardt and Ann Williams, are featured in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes – for simply, being decent human beings, and taking a stand against racism, and a stand for their fellow student.
Irena Sendler, Elizabeth Eckford, Ken Reinhardt, and Ann Williams are just a few of the unsung heroes unearthed by high school history students throughout the country, and showcased in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes.
Today is the International Day of Women. All across the United States, women are reminding each other of their worth, and championing equal rights between men and women. While thousands of women in the States are advocating taking a day off paid employment, or advocating mothers working inside the home not engage in home-care activities, other women across this world are being subjected to horrendous atrocities simply by being born female. Women are being mutilated because they are women; young girls are being forced to marry men sometimes the age of their grandfathers. Still, others, in countries the United States historically allies herself with, are not allowed to even drive a vehicle, or take a walk outside without the escort of a male relative.
As women, we don’t have to stop doing our work in order to celebrate the women who are our unsung heroes.
Instead, we should remember and recognize these women on a daily basis:
… the single mom, working two jobs to raise her family…
… the woman leaving an abusive relationship behind, battered, weary, broken, and in need of a helping hand, or loving heart…
… the young girl trying to start her future, struggling to find a way to attend her college of choice…
… the woman quietly hunched over in prayer, trying to determine how to get her life, home, and love back on track…
None of us are exempt from looking outside ourselves, and recognizing the inherent worth and goodness of our neighbor – whether they be a different race, different sex, different creed.
All of us are being called to be an unsung hero – the hand that helps someone else in need, at a moment they need it the most.
Every single one of us are being called to make this world a little better than we have found it to date.
So, join me, not just today, but every day, in making a difference. Let’s teach our children they, too, can make a difference – not just in their own life, but in the lives of those around them.
Join me, in teaching our children the values that will also make them unsung heroes.
Because those lessons start at home…
…many times, with the influence of a woman.