Irena Sendler & Letters to Mom

As many of you prepare for your Letter to Mom Ceremonies, it is good to remind your players that there are so many women on this planet who have done truly amazing things and are never properly thanked or awarded for them, whether they be Stay-at-Home Moms, Social Heroines like Irena Sendler or a mix of both.

The objectives for the ceremony are basically two: 1. Celebrate our Moms for the truly amazing sacrifices and virtues they display on a daily basis - usually quietly and with little gratitude. 2. Help our athletes appreciate their Moms and show them greater respect.
Here is a story of one of the most amazing women of our times. The virtues you could talk about with this story are numerous: Compassion, Courage, Bold, Brave, Relentless, Tough, Creative ...
On May 12, 2008 Irena Sendler, the courageous Polish Catholic nurse who saved Jewish children from death at the hands of the Nazis, died at the age of 98 in a hospital in Warsaw.

Sendler became known as the angel of the Warsaw ghetto for having saved 2,500 Jewish children from certain death.

During that time she worked for the Warsaw department of social wellbeing which administered the community soup kitchens throughout the city.  She worked tirelessly helping Jews and Catholics.

After the creation of the Warsaw ghetto, Sendler was able to take in the children of many families in order to keep them from being deported to the concentration camps.  She transported the children in ambulances as if they were sick with typhus, she hid them in trash cans, tool boxes, supply chests or coffins and later in convents and Catholic homes.
She also got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a  plumbing/sewer  specialist. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she  carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger  children). She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the infants' noises. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children/infants. 

She created an archive with the real identities of the children so that one day they could be reunited with their surviving family members. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. 

In 1943 she was detained by the Gestapo and taken to prison where she was brutally tortured.  The Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. A Divine Mercy holy card was found in her cell with the phrase, Jesus I trust in you, which she kept until 1979 when she gave it to Pope John Paul II as a gift.

She never betrayed her mission and she was sentenced to death, but she was freed thanks to the intervention of the Polish resistance.

At the end of the war she was able to recover her archives. Although most of the families of the children she saved had died in the concentration camps, she placed many of the children in orphanages, and some were sent to Palestine.

In 1965, the organization Yad Vashem of Jerusalem granted her the title Righteous Among the Nations.  During the last years of her life she received the thanks of the children she had saved, and was nominated in 2007 for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected.

The prize doesn't always go to the most deserving. 
The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".
Now helping people understand climate change and such is important ... but saving the lives of 2,500 children destined for certain death risking your life daily to do so and then being tortured for it ... 
The deserving award winner seems pretty obvious to me. But I'm sure Irena did not risk her life for some award ...
There was a movie made about Irena ... The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009). Sounds like a great movie to show your team.
Virtue = Strength,
Lou Judd

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