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{September 10, 2012}   Simple Acts of Heroism Are “The Greenville Way”

This wasn’t the article I had planned to write. I was going to write a fun, light-hearted blog about events coming up this weekend, or great places to watch college football, or which Downtown pub to visit for the best cocktail. Then I saw the calendar and that date which is permanently burned in the hearts and minds of us all…September 11th. Suddenly, those blog ideas seemed trivial.  What was the proper way to recognize this day? I knew there would be news stories commemorating the events of 11 years ago and memorial services in honor of those who had perished. But, thinking back to those days following 9/11, it was the stories of simple heroism, committed by everyday people that truly stuck with me.

We know the stories almost by heart now…of the courageous passengers on United Flight 93, who prevented their hijackers from crashing the plane into the intended target. Of the fire fighters, police officers and other emergency responders who rushed head on into danger, when others were fleeing. But, for every one heroic act that made the evening news, there were hundreds that very few people, other than the ones directly affected, ever heard about. Of a person taking the hand of a stranger to help them to safety from a smoke-filled office. Of others sharing water, and extinguishing fires and holding open doors to help coworkers escape. Simple, random acts of heroism that impacted the lives of others in profound and unexpected ways.

Greenville has had her share of heroes. All one has to do is walk down Main Street and view statues of great Greenvillians such as Max Heller, our former mayor and catalyst for the revitalization of our beautiful Downtown. But what many people do not realize is that Mr. Heller, a Jewish refugee who came here from Austria just before World War II, would not have been able to escape the Nazi regime without the simple heroism of a teenager from Greenville.  When this young woman, Mary Mills, received the plea from the young Austrian she had met a year earlier, she knew she had to help… it was after all, as Mary said later,  “The Greenville Way”. As a result, Max and his entire family were able to escape Hitler’s persecution of the Jews and our fair city was made all the better.

The Greenville Way…a simple act by one with a major impact on many. So, here’s what I am thinking – in honor of those heroes of 9/11, both known and unknown, and in honor of Greenville’s own heroes,  this September 11th, we could all commit our own random acts of heroism. Now, I’m not saying we should hope for an emergency so we can swoop in like Superman or Wonder Woman to save the day. But we can all do small things that will greatly impact those lives we touch. Give blood, donate canned goods to a food pantry, buy a cup of coffee for a police officer, a fire fighter, or emergency responder, send flowers to your elderly neighbor, pay for the drive-thru order of the person behind you in line, write a thank you letter to your teacher, hold the door open for others, mow your neighbors’ lawn…any simple act of kindness that will make the day a little better for someone else.  After all…it’s “The Greenville Way”.

 

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