Friday marked the anniversary of the passing of Miep Gies. In case you don't know her by name, Miep Gies was "one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews from the Nazis in an annex above Anne's father's business premises during World War II."
This past Thanksgiving morning, my wife and I watched Freedom Writers, a movie about an inner-city school teacher who attempts to inspire her English students. One of the things the teacher does is teach her students about the Holocaust, even bringing them to meet Holocaust survivors.
At a certain point in the movie I started to get a little incredulous about the plot. I decided to look it up and discovered that the movie was actually based on a true story.
When I watched the following scene, I was deeply moved. The speech Miep Gies (played here by actress Pat Carroll) gives these students is so very powerful.
After watching this movie and this scene, I resolved to remember women and men like Miep Gies who left an extraordinary impact for good on the world, simply by doing what was right. Maybe by knowing their stories and counting them as heroes, I might be influenced a little more in that direction myself.During Miep's lecture to our class, one student who had been particularly inspired by her story stood up and told her that she was his hero. She got very upset and said, "I'm not a hero; I simply did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do." That became a mantra, for me and for my students. What better guiding principle can you have for making choices than simply to do the right thing?