Heroes are those who understand the responsibility that comes with life.
In the course of human events, June of 1940 was a noteworthy month. The Nazis were on the march across Europe, eager to exercise their Aryan superiority and prove something to the world. Plus, two heroic people were born, eager to overcome obstacles and prove something to the world.
June 3 -- The German Luftwaffe (Air Force) dropped 1,100 bombs on Paris.
June 4 -- The German Army entered Paris.
June 5 -- The German Army began an offensive on Southern France.
June 9 -- Norway surrendered to the Nazis.
June 10 -- Italy declared war on France and Britain. Canada declared war on Italy.
June 14 -- Polish political prisoners became the first inmates to arrive at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
June 15 -- The USSR invaded Lithuania.
June 17 -- France asked Germany for terms of surrender.
June 17 -- The USSR occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
June 18 -- The USSR (Stalin) compensated Germany with $7.5 million for occupying the Baltic States.
June 22 -- France formally surrendered to Germany on terms dictated by the Nazis.
June 23 -- The Nazis began to plunder Paris, invading more than 70,000 residences and looting artwork.
June 23 -- Wilma Rudolph was born.
June 28 -- Muhammad Yunus was born.
Wilma Rudolph was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. She was the 20th out of 22 children in a black family in the segregated south. Her father was a railroad porter and her mother made girl's dresses out of flour sacks.
Born prematurely at less than five pounds, Wilma had polio as a child and spent six years in a steel brace. In high school, she set state records for scoring in basketball and led her team to the state championships. In 1956, at age 16, she competed in the Olympic Games and won a bronze metal in the 4X4 relay. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold metals (track events) in a single Olympiad.
A hero need not be undefeated, but he or she must be undaunted.
As one of the most celebrated female athletes of all time, Wilma Rudolph became a role model who worked tirelessly to break racial and gender barriers prevalent in those times. She died in 1994 of brain cancer.
Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D., was born in Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in the world, and went on to become a professor of economics at Chittagong University in southern Bangladesh.
In 1976, he developed and founded a revolutionary banking movement, called the Grameen (village) Banking System, based on the concept of micro-credit whereby he would extend small loans to entrepreneurs who were too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Basically, he loaned money to people who actually needed money (to pursue a personal business venture), rather than those who could provide collateral.
The first loan Yunus issued was for $27 to 42 women from the village of Jobra. Even beggars were able to borrow money under his micro-credit banking system. The success of the scheme has since exceeded all expectations and has been copied in developing countries around the world, leading to real social change.
Heroes are those who devote their lives to something larger than themselves.
In 2006, Yunus and the Grameen Foundation were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus used part of the $1.4 million award to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor.
Hitler and his Nazi gang-bangers moved on long ago to a special section of Hell, where they sit naked on a wooden bench near the boiler. They spend their idle hours reminiscing about the good old days, pondering their superiority and playing checkers.
In a world where greed is good and wars are memorialized, most people simply go along for the ride. Then there are those who rise above their circumstance and make the world a better place, and those who play checkers in Hell.
Your destiny is in your own hands -- choose wisely.
Quote for the Day -- "Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of the Rat Race is not yet final." Hunter S. Thompson
Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where heroes are those who confront the unknown. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111