Irene Morgan Kirkaldy died last week. In 1944 she was arrested and jailed when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Virginia, more than ten years before Rosa Parks lit the South on fire with her own refusal. She could easily have been killed, but she found it important that day to stand for something.
Deranged man kills a kid and maims a mom with a meat cleaver, which is what you’ll see everywhere about the story. The other story is that a 53-year-old woman neighbor charged the guy in mid-attack, unarmed, took a cleaver hit to the face and still knocked his weapon away. The phrase that you see in Medal of Honor statements “thinking nothing of her own safety” comes to mind. She could easily have been killed, but it was so important to her that she had to do something.
A psychologist I knew 20 years ago had been in the resistance against the Nazis, inside Germany. Not too many people did that. Not too many of his friends made it, from what I understand. In the context of trying to help me with a much more trivial problem, he said that he had been captured and interrogated twice by the Gestapo. I told him that he was unusually courageous not to have broken under that stress. He said: “No, none, none of us was particularly brave. It was just important. Very important.”