History is very rich and full to the brim with stories of people who led full and interesting lives. The problem, of course, is that you probably heard about the same ones over and over again.
You’re probably tired of hearing about George Washington by now, and that’s okay.
But what if people told you that as cool as Washington’s life was—it would do you good to learn about how he tackled a smallpox outbreak that could have decimated his troops—there are others out there who are just as cool, if not cooler?
We heard about Raoul Wallenberg, Ben Salomon, and others after Redditor Master_Mudkip asked the online community:
“Who would you consider the most badass person in history?”
“He got away with it…”
“During World War II, he posed as a Swedish ambassador and confidently lied through his teeth to Nazis for years to save tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.”
“There were instances of him flagging down trains bound for death camps, and yelling at the machine-gun-toting SS men that Swedish citizens were on board, handing out homemade fake passport documents to as many Jews as possible as he went.”
“He got away with it for so long because Fascists have a thing for confident authority figures.”
“The guy was captured by the red army in 1945 and likely died in a gulag.” ~ crappyentrepreneur
“They say when his body…”
“The dude was just a dentist who got drafted into World War II. He was tending to injured soldiers when four Japanese soldiers entered the tent and killed a man he had just saved.”
“This man killed all four of them, then grabbed a machine gun and fired upon the incoming Japanese forces, letting the injured escape.”
“They say when his body was discovered, 98 enemy troops lay dead in front of him. He had been shot 72 times and bayonetted over two dozen times before he died. What a legend.” ~ DarkwingDave007
“I’m sure most of us have thought…”
“Welles Crowther, aka The Man In The Red Bandana.”
“I’m sure most of us have thought about what it must have been like in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and it must have been debilitatingly petrifying.”
“He was 24 years old working on the 104th floor as an equities trader.”
“Made his way down to the sky lobby of the South Tower and found a badly burned woman, carried her down 17 floors, then went back upstairs to help guide others to the only passable stairwell.”
“Stayed up there helping others and working with the fire department until the towers collapsed. He’s responsible for saving around 20 lives and died a damn hero.” ~ FrankSkapopolous
“She went undercover…”
“She went undercover and endured abuse to cover neglect and abuse in Blackwell’s asylum.”
“She then went to Mexico and called out the dictator for going after the press and oppressing his people and then fled/was exiled from Mexico because of that.”
“She traveled the world in 70-something days to prove you could travel the world in 80 days or less (based on the Jules Verne novel), also did some reporting on the Eastern European front in World War I, and was arrested after she was mistaken for a British spy.”
“And she did so much more! Such a badass and one of my historical heroes.” ~ Cheshire_Cat8888
“Witold Pilecki volunteered to enter the Auschwitz death camp and escaped it to report what was happening there to allies of Poland. No one gave a f*** at that time.” ~ Buckszpryt
“Then when he landed in Okinawa…”
“Desmond Doss, an army medic in World War II who was constantly belittled and abused by his battalion and superiors for refusing to use a weapon as it went against his beliefs.”
“Then when he landed in Okinawa and more than half of his battalion were shredded by Japanese machine-gun fire, Desmond Doss crawled through the dirt over the course of several days to as many of his injured allies as he could and dragged them all the way back to the 40-foot cliff they had scaled up from, and lowered them to safety.”
“Some of these injured men were lying 15ft from the enemy machine gun itself, and all the while Doss wore his medic helmet, which stood out like a giant bullseye on a battlefield where the Japanese soldiers were ordered to kill doctors first to crush morale.”
“In the end, he saved the lives of 75 men and survived with an arm fracture from a sniper round and several pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body from when he tried to kick a grenade away from him and his men.”
“He was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.” ~ -CorrectOpinion-
“He is widely known for his exploration…”
“Peter Freuchen. He was a Danish explorer, journalist, author, and anthropologist.”
“He is widely known for his exploration of the Arctic Circle and discovery of vast areas of Greenland.”
“He was an Indigenous rights activist, having married an Inuit woman. He escaped a death warrant issued by the Third Reich for punching Nazis.”
“Won the $64,000 question as a contestant on the game show. He wrestled a polar bear and won. And as if this all wasn’t enough, he escaped a near-death encounter in a blizzard by fashioning a spade out of his own frozen feces.” ~ SpaceMonkeyXLLII
“That teenage girl…”
“That teenage girl that was the sole survivor of a plane crash and made her way through the Amazon…. She’s definitely up there!” ~ smokeandlavender
To which this person replied…”
“While injured, bleeding, and functionally blind nonetheless. She had a strong prescription and lost her glasses in the crash.”
“I remember reading that she waded through a river, using a shoe to tap in front of her and scare off possible snakes. She was then found by a native tribe boating in the river.” ~ lordoftoastonearth
“It’s common to be brave…”
“Definitely Major Hugh Thompson. I’m sure there are people who have done similarly brave things, but not that I know about.”
“In 1968, Thompson managed to stop the My Lai massacre almost single-handedly. He arrived after many civilians had already been killed, and couldn’t understand how they had died.”
“After realising his fellow American soldiers were firing on unarmed civilians, he landed his helicopter between the Vietnamese and the soldiers.”
“He then told the troops that if they continued to do what they were doing, he and his crew would open fire on them. After getting back to base, he filed a complaint about what he had witnessed.”
“His complaint was covered up, and he was shunned as a traitor. It wasn’t until 1998 that the army acknowledged he did the right thing.”
“It’s common to be brave in war when you know that you’ll be lauded as a hero – it’s another thing entirely to do it knowing you’ll be seen as a traitor.
“He turned against his troops and country to protect innocent lives, despite what it would cost him, and I think that’s about as brave as you can get.” ~ hellebellet
Well, I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel enlightened after reading these.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had heard about these when you were in school at some point?
Perhaps that would have made history class more interesting for many of you.
We all know the basic memorization model isn’t necessarily the most conducive way to learn.