Friday, June 13, 2008

True Heroines

Heroines. The very word courses through my thoughts to Shakespeare’s “short dark daughter” Hero from Much Ado About Noting. The interesting thing to about the character of Hero is that her woman’s role was to stand submissive and allow things to happen around her. Not at all the heroic archetype! There is more strength in a
women hero than the word Heroine can inject.

When we talk about woman heroes I think of Amsterdam’s Miep Gies, India’s Mother Theresa, China’s American teacher Minnie Vautrin, or Ireland’s Mairead Corrigan. These women, like so many women heroes are women of peace, involved in a war not their own. These women share the same quiet spirit many other women share, but have risen against unbearable odds to hold their own against the evil they saw around them.

Like France’s Jeanne D’Arc, most had rather “sit by their mother’s side and spin” than to do what they did. Most of them did not see what they did as particularly heroic. Most of them threw their arms wide to embrace and protect people who were not of their race, religion or nationality.

Viennese born Miep Gies, protected the Jewish-German Frank family for whom she worked, from the Nazis (Anne Frank’s family,) managing to feed, cloth, and cheer the several hidden Jewish families in the old annex, for several long years of WWII. At the same time, she hid a young Jewish man from the Nazi’s in her own home through out the war as well. How did she find the fortitude to do what she did? How did she find it within her to defy the Nazi’s and face possible death, certain internment?

Minnie Vautrin, an American teacher at the University in Nanking before WWII sheltered hundreds of Chinese women and children from the invading Japanese soldiers, saving them from the horrendous atrocities pressed on them by the Japanese men. How did she cut through her teacher’s heart to stand between, sometimes literally, aggressive Japanese soldiers and the women they wanted?

Secretary Mairead Corrigan was not an activist before three of her sister’s children were run down in a car by Irish militant Danny Lennon. A month later she and eye witness Betty Williams led 35,000 Irish people on the streets in a peace march for all of Ireland.
Miep, Minnie and Mairead all have the same spirit in common, and the same ideals. Regardless of their own genetic background they believe in a future of peace, justice, equality and freedom. Their hearts propelled them to where the steel swords of men can not go. Their women’s values of family put them beyond the wars of men and allowed them to reach half way across the world for peace. The word heroine does not do justice to the strength and determination of these women heroes.


  1. Amazing. Reading about theses women makes me feel I can get through another day just being a mom!!

  2. I didn't know about Mairead Corrigan. I learned something. Thanks.

  3. I have to add being a mom to everyday heroes. It's not easy bringing up a child, juggling household and (possibly) work in this day and age. But, it's the best job in the world.