Good Morning, Friends,
It's Sunday morning - midway through the Martin Luther King weekend. I realized as I sat down at the computer to enter this post that I had only thought of these 3 days as a break from my professional work. (There is no break on the household front; wash waits for no one!)
Miep Gies' death Tuesday, January 12, 2010, I decided I wanted to write about her contribution to history and to the literary world. And it's only appropriate that I write about her when Americans pause to honor a man who fought for human rights just as Miep protected the rights of a Jewish family during the Holocaust.
Ask any eighth-grade English teacher who Miep Gies is, and he will know. The dramatization of Anne Frank's diary has long been included in anthologies for that age group, and so most middle school students also know of Anne's protector.
Miep's place in history is not only secured because she cared for the Frank family and others hidden in the annex, but because she saved Anne's diary. Amazon describes the journal as "a modern classic, the living testimony of a Jewish girl caught in the nightmare horror of Hitler's Final Solution. Her extraordinary story can be read in over 50 languages, and millions of copies are in print in various editions throughout the world."
I am so thankful that Miep had the forsight to save Anne's writings, and I am also grateful that the Nazis failed to take the treasure with them. I wouldn't doubt if they perused it, however, and completely overlooked its value. Oh, if they had only known the impact those reflections would have on the world!
Miep was 100 years old when she passed away, and although she shunned attention earlier in her life, claiming she didn't do all that much, she became an active voice against intolerance for the past 20 years. The tiny hero was especially important to Erin Gruell and her Freedom Writers, as they brought Mies to California to meet and honor her. She was important to all who value human rights and tolerance.
We are fortunate that Miep was so long among us, and now it's our duty to immortalize her further by respecting and exemplifying what she stood for. I often wonder what I would have done had I lived in a similar setting. Would I have had the courage to risk my life to help others. I don't have to do that today, but am I willing to inconvenience myself in order to promote tolerance and extend charity?
We have the opportunity to do that very thing as we look to Haiti and her many many needs. And once food, water, and shelter are provided, will help disappear, or are we willing to rebuild the people as well as houses and buildings?
Like Miep, we can't do it all, but we can do something.