Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20: Profile in Courage

Courage is a powerful thing, a noteworthy thing, and I don't have it. Courage is standing up despite the consequences. I can stand up freely, speak my mind, and take no risks. I can blog to my heart's content, but am I putting myself out there? Am I challenging myself? Am I dropping everything to rush to a desperate corner of the world to offer help, or to march in solidarity for a cause I believe some day must triumph? The spirit is weak. I am not even sure that the flesh is willing. That is not courage; it may be righteousness but it doesn't hurt me or put me in harm's way. And so I deeply admire those who possess that kind of courage, and act on it. Courage is risk; moral courage is risking yourself for others. It was on this day, 72 years ago, that members of the German military plotted to kill Adolph Hitler and overthrow the Nazi government. They had had enough. Germany was losing the war and Hitler was sending their country into total ruin. These officers thought if they could gain control of the country they could sue for peace and end the brutality. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg led the plot, convinced after Stalingrad that Hitler's death would be less evil than his policies. On July 20, 1944, after over a year of planning and consolidating support, he placed a bomb at Hitler's feet at a meeting. Hitler hit the briefcase holding the bomb with his foot and shifted it to the other side of the table support where he stood. When the bomb went off, three were killed but Hitler survived. Von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were doomed. Nearly 5,000 suspects were executed. Von Stauffenberg died in front of a firing squad on July 21. It was a desperate plot against desperate odds. The cost of failure was known by all, and all paid it.

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