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Heroes You Should Know: Neerja Bhanot

 Twenty-two year old Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight attendant on Pan Am Flight 73 bound for New York City when it was hijacked in the early morning hours of September 5, 1986, during a layover in Karachi, Pakistan.  As four heavily armed terrorists, members of the Abu Nidal Organization (an offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO) boarded the plane, Bhanot notified the cockpit.  And since the plane was still on the tarmac, the pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer were able to escape through a ceiling hatch. 

Heaven, Hell, and the virtue of Hope

  “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”  -Viktor Frankl  

Heroes You Should Know: Dobri Dobrev---The Beautiful Beggar

   You’ve seen his type before, at the bottom of Freeway off ramps, sitting outside a church, sleeping in dark corners.  His clothes are worn and dirty.  He’s haggard, despairing, defeated.  Or is he? 

Heroes You Should Know: Alok and Laxmi

Alok Dixit and Laxmi:  Celebrating beauty In Agra, India, one mile from the breathtaking Taj Mahal something just as magnificent is taking place.  Sheroes Hangout is a café where women who have been maimed in acid attacks work---and heal. 

Heroes You Should Know: Felix Finkbeiner

 In 2007 a nine year-old boy in Germany was given an assignment in school to write a paper on the issue of climate change.  Not long into his research, Felix Finkbeiner discovered the story of Wangri Muta Maathai, the Kenyan hero who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her Green Belt Movement that has been responsible for planting over 30 million trees across Africa to fight deforestation and soil erosion. Trees lower carbon dioxide emissions, and thus diminish the Greenhouse Effect. 

Heroes You Should Know: Walter Ciszek---Saint of the Gulag

 Born to Polish emigrants, Walter Ciszek hardly looked the part of a future hero.  He spent much of his early youth fighting anyone who would oblige him; his parents, other youths, the law.  It got so bad that his father actually dragged him down to the local police station and begged them to place Walter in reform school.  His future looked as bleak as the coal mining region of Pennsylvania he was growing up in.  

Heroes You Should Know: Shukria Barakzai

   When you think of Afghanistan, what comes to mind?  War?  Osama bin Laden?  Taliban?  Warlords?  Violence?  Sadly, yes.  How about “female journalist, entrepreneur, and politician who advocates for women’s rights?”  Unlikely. Well, meet Ms. Unlikely, Shukria Barakzai. 

Heroes You Should Know: Ashley Rhodes-Courter

  Ashley Rhodes was born to an unwed seventeen year-old mother.  And to make matters more difficult, the mother took in a drug-addicted boyfriend and became drug-addicted herself.  When the law pursued the couple, they fled with Ashley and her brother to another state where they were eventually apprehended.  Three year-old Ashley and her brother were placed in a foster home.  And over the next nine and a half years she’d find herself in 14 different homes, and attend nine different schools.  

Heroes You Should Know: Sophie Scholl

   The daughter of a mayor in 1930’s Germany, Sophie Scholl was caught up in the swirl of politics at an early age.  And with the rise of the Nazi party, the idealistic teen-ager and her older brother Hans quickly joined the Hitler Youth.  They, like so many, bought the lie that Adolph Hitler would bring hope and prosperity back to Germany.  But between her father’s early anti-Nazi stance and her own careful observations, Sophie soon realized that Nazism was utterly incompatible with her Christianity. 

Heroes You Should Know: John D’Eri

   Inspiration can occur at any time, in any place…even a car wash.  That’s where John D’Eri got the idea of a business that could employee his son Andrew, who is autistic, and other young adults on the autism spectrum. 

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