October 15, 2007 - Irena Sendler. Are you familiar with the name? Most people may not be. However, by the end of this article, you will see that this is a woman who personifies courage, strength, honor, fortitude and love--traits that most of us, including myself, claim to possess, yet rarely exhibit--to an extent that is simply unfathomable. She is a true warrior; an authentic champion.
You see, Ms. Sendler, who celebrated her 97th birthday earlier this year, can lay claim to the primary role in a story that is as compelling as it is astonishing. As a young, Roman Catholic, Polish woman in 1942, Ms. Sendler defied torture and death at the hands of the Nazis in order to save the lives of 2,500 Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto. In so doing, she single-handedly rescued these children from death--a death that would have followed with 100% certainty--in the Nazi concentration camps of Europe.
In actuality, Ms. Sendler, at the time a social worker in Nazi-occupied Poland, began helping Jews prior to the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a member of the Zegota, an underground council facilitated to assist the Jews, Ms. Sendler took it upon herself to rescue children, since children, along with women, were almost certain to be put to death immediately upon entry into the Nazi death camps. Ms. Sendler, who is not Jewish, went as far as to don the "Star of David" whilst in the Warsaw Ghetto, so as to not draw attention to herself.
Faced with the reality of certain death if her mission became compromised, Ms. Sendler organized the smuggling of 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and into the homes of sympathetic Polish families as well as Catholic convents and orphanages such as the Sisters of the Family of Mary and the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary. In some cases, Ms. Sendler hand-carried children out of the ghetto herself. The children's identities were never lost. Ms. Sendler kept hidden lists in jars that tracked their original identities alongside their new identities.
Ms. Sendler's courage came with a painful price. She was captured in 1943 by the Nazis, severely tortured and was sentenced to death. However, her own organization saved her by bribing the guards just prior to her execution. In fact, her name would appear on the list of those put to death. This sent Ms. Sendler into hiding, but her light continued to shine as she managed to rescue countless other children even while in hiding.
She was later recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" at Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem alongside stalwarts such as Oskar Schindler and Chiune Sugihara.
Now I ask you, is this not a story that exemplifies our definitions of courage and strength? Our Lord and Savior said it Himself, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Is this not an account of what it means to truly "love thy neighbor"?
Apparently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee disagreed, finding a higher degree of merit in a man infatuated with 18-foot waves over a woman who risked her life to save the lives of 2,500 children during what is arguably the darkest period this world has ever known. Last week, they skipped over Irena Sendler and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to an American, liberal hypocrite--one who, while Ms. Sendler was rescuing thousands of lives, had yet to begin his own.
Rest assured, Ms. Sendler, the world knows who the true "champion" is, here. Your award, an exponentially-greater accolade, awaits you.