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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. 

Heroes You Should Know: Guy Gruters

  Guy Gruters grew up with a singular ambition:  to be the best at whatever he did.  And a quick glance at his developing resume would confirm that he was well on his way;  Eagle Scout, first in his graduating class in Engineering Science at the United States Air Force Academy, a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering in less than one year, pilot training and fighter gunnery school.  And a beautiful wife and two healthy children seemed to round out the picture.  But Gruters wanted more. 

Heroes You Should Know: Naoto Matsumura

  On March 11, 2011 Hell visited Japan;  a devastating earthquake, followed closely by a massive tsunami, and then the meltdown of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  Thousands of residents evacuated the area as the Japanese government established a 12.5 miles “exclusion zone” around the power plant to protect people from radiation exposure. 

Heroes You Should Know: Eddie Aikau

  Eddie Aikau was a son of the sea.  Born on Maui and reared on Oahu, he learned to surf at age eleven, and by sixteen he had dropped out of school so that he could pursue his dream of becoming a champion.  He’d work nights at the Dole Pineapple cannery, so he could surf during the day.  And soon he was a professional surfer as well as a lifeguard at the famous North Shore of Oahu where it was estimated he saved over 500 lives in the treacherous surf. 

Heroes You Should Know: Clara Hale

  Clara McBride Hale, affectionately known as Mother Hale to most, was a widow with three children and a high school education at age 19.  So she went to work cleaning houses by day, and working as a janitor at night.  But being away from her children so much was increasingly unacceptable to her.  So she started a daycare out of her own home for children in her Harlem neighborhood.  And the love in the Hale home was so great many of the children began staying there, seeing their parents on weekends. 

Heroes You Should Know: The Families of Margraten

 Fresh from the breakthrough at Normandy, General Dwight Eisenhower and the Allied forces dreamed of a move that would end the war by Christmas of 1944.  The result was Operation Market Garden, where allied air and ground forces consisting of American, British, Canadian, Polish and Dutch soldiers would liberate Holland by seizing key bridges in Holland, and then rapidly sweep north into the lowlands of Germany while avoiding the German defense line.    

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