Heroes of 2013

I’m a little late on the 2013 retrospectives; most of our media sources are already falling over themselves to forget 2013, or at least to start making predictions for 2014. But I want to take a few days this month to honor people whose efforts I think are worth remembering.

Are they heroes? Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t have thought it of most of them. Most of these folks never fired a gun in anger, never heard bullets snap around them as they drove toward their objective. Only one of them was an instrument of national policy. A couple of them never even faced mortal danger.

But they all took an action in 2013, took a stand and did things most of us would dismiss as impossible–actions I think we should emulate if we want to make our world better. In a word, they showed courage, every one of them, the sort of courage we should all find inspiring.

That’s inspiring as in inspiring us to do the same, given the opportunity. These people provided us examples to follow in our daily lives, examples that are relevant to every one of us every day, no matter who we are or what we do or how much we make.

We’ll spend a day with each of these heroes this month, looking at what they did and who they are in a little more detail. For now, here are their names and some brief introductions:

  • Nelson Mandela – He died a month ago, but he set the standard for all of us in his example of forgiveness, nonviolence, and determination.
  • Malala Yousafzai – Not one to let a little thing like being shot in the head by the Taliban stop her, Malala continues to advocate for girls’ education in the Muslim world. In 2013, she became the youngest woman ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Deb Cohan and Antoinette Tuff – These two will share a day, but I have a feeling their post may end up being longer than usual. Deb turned the moment before a life-altering surgery into a dance party, while Antoinette prevented her school from becoming the venue for another mass murder.
  • Pope Francis – He took office in March, and since then has spent his time setting the example for his people instead of telling them how to live.
  • Diana Nyad – She swam from Havana to Miami–at age 62. Suddenly, I can’t remember any of my excuses not to get out and do–well, anything.

I’m looking forward to this series. I hope you are, too.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.