Sunday, April 09, 2017


I'm thinking about Miep Gies today. For those who don't know, Gies was one of several Dutch citizens who sheltered Anne Frank and her family (and others) for two years above an Amsterdam office. When asked if she was a hero, Gies replied:

"Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."

These days we throw around the term "hero" quite a bit. Police officers are considered heroes, every one, as are soldiers; in fact, we seem inclined to grant that title to any who carry arms and face danger in the service of the state, regardless of what they actually accomplish. Miep Gies risked terrible danger, yet she carried no weapons and she *opposed* the state. She did not even succeed in saving the people she harbored, but in my view she accomplished as much as anyone who ever wore a badge or took an oath.