Our lives as we know it-our freedoms we take for granted- are due to their sacrifices. Unsung heroes-most cases we don't even know their names.
When I write, I use inspiration. I have studied history and have used scenarios of deeds of others before me. Patriot Secrets was a tribute to the ones who put their lives on the line for the cause they believed would better the world around them. Not for themselves, but their children, family and neighbors. There is something within these people that sacrifice themselves for the better of others. Why are these special people so willing to lay their lives on the line for people they have never met? I believe there are several reasons- honor, duty, love, belief in God, and empathy.
Empathy. The technical meaning of empathy states the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Empathy to me means someone who feels the pain, the hurt, the love, the fear of an another no matter of their race, ethnicity, or religion.
In the last couple of days, I have researched Irena Sendler. I have researched all I could find on her. It's hard. She only came to light here in America when students in Kansas did a Holocaust project and wrote a play, Life in a Jar. Someone left a comment on a blog I was reading about her that said it was important for every Jewish child to know her name. I beg to differ. I believe its important for all children to know her name.
Irena Sendler (Sendlerowa) was born in 1910 outside of Warsaw, Poland. Her father, a Catholic doctor, died of typhus caring for poor Jewish families. She was greatly influenced by her father and his deeds. When World War II began, she was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department. In 1939 the Germans invaded Poland. It became a crime to help any Jew. A crime punishable by death. Not by a trial. No, immediate- most shot dead. And the punishment not only extended to the person, but their family as well. The Germans threw over 400,000 (some reports say 500,000) Jews in a place that became known as the Warsaw Ghetto.
Irena risked her life along with ten other ladies within the Welfare Department. I wish I had their names. I don't. For five years she and the other ladies worked endlessly rescuing Jewish children from certain death. Over 2,500 children were saved by any means possible from the back of her ambulance, hidden under blankets, in sacks, in toolboxes, and even in coffins. She trained her dog to bark continuously to hid the cries of babies. Irena was not alone in her quest. The Catholic church helped her. She said the sisters never turned away a child. The priest created false baptisms records for the child's identity. Eventually, Irena began working with the underground resistance, Zegota.
In 1943 she was arrested, severely tortured and sentenced to death. She escaped only because the Zegota bribed an German guard. For the rest of the war she remained hidden and working with the underground resistance. Irena kept a record of all the children, who they were, their family and where they were placed hidden in jars buried in a neighbor's garden. Unfortunately after the war, few of the children were reunited with their families because most relatives of these children had been killed. Recognition for her work and the work of her companions did not come until after the Kansas students called attention to her work. When the war was over Poland was overtaken by the communists who hid their deeds because of the connection to the underground resistance. Some of the women were even imprisoned by the Communist.
Irena Sendler died on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98. She has been noted to have said, "Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory."
Ellie Wiesel quoted "In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted as attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care..."
Heroes are often silent. It is up to us to give them the honor they deserve. The other day I read about a death of a fallen soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, who had been deployed 14 times. He had even helped out in the rescue of Jessica Lynch. His only request in case of his death was that his family not talk to the media.
Most heroes emerge given their actions under extreme circumstances. They do not seek fame and glory. They do not request a reality show or book deal. They are simply people who make our world a better place to live... To all of these people thank you...
To learn more about Irena Sendler I have left the links I have found and used for this blog and also the link to the obituary of Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij.
Moral Heroes Irena Sendler An Unsung Hero Army Ranger Kristoffer B. Domeij
Today's book give away- PDF copy of Patriot Secrets.