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Word Count: 599
Many of us accept the image of idealized heroes but they are a product of mass media and values gone awry When one looks deeper one finds more Heroes are among us yet we dont always see them Heroes can be people living out their difficult lives quietly but leaving a legacy of grace hope and example A few years ago my husband and children were enjoying July fourth fireworks on the beach We watched the bright colors spread across the sky as the sound of the ocean waves filled our heads My family was free together and content My thoughts went to another July fourth in 1923 when my Aunt Gertruda and grandfather traveled across the same ocean and arrived in America It was at that moment I realized my life and everything I knew was indebted to my aunts heroism Aunt Gertruda was born in a small village in the Ukraine Her family was poor and the living conditions were brutal Pogroms occurred at any time She saw indescribable human behavior Soldiers came into the villages killed families and burned houses Travel was prohibited so the only way to escape this cruelty was secretly Her parents were fearful of their lives and decided to send the family in stages to America At the age of seventeen my Aunt Gertruda was entrusted with her fourteen-year-old brother and given an escape route Their journey took two years of walking and hiding They were beaten and imprisoned along the way When they reached Germany they were transported by ship to America Once settled in the safety of Americas waiting arms my aunt worked hard and quietly helped others in need Aunt Gertruda had experienced cruel behavior yet she chose to live each day with kindness and compassion Aunt Gertruda was kind but her biggest asset was to encourage us to hope when there appeared to be no solution When she and my grandfather
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