Saturday, January 07, 2006

Righteous Gentiles

Hugh Thompson Jr was a US military helicopter pilot who risked his own life to help stop the My Lai massacre in 1968. He came upon the scene, put his helicopter down between the villagers and the US soldiers who were busy killing them, and ordered his troops to defend the villagers. He died recently (BBC via Steve Gilliard).

I'd heard his story before but this time it brought up memories from the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial/museum in Jerusalem, which I visited 20 years ago. The outside grounds of this otherwise grim place are devoted to the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations, commemorating non-Jews who came to the aid of Jews under the Nazi regime, usually at great risk to themselves. That some people (not many, alas) could retain their moral clarity and be capable of acting on it, in conditions like that, made me think that there might be some hope for humanity after all.

Hugh Thompson seems to have lived on the same avenue. There are some heroes in the world.

1 comment:

Michael Bains said...

There are some heroes in the world.

Thanks for the reminder. It gave me a cool chill with which to start my day of right.

(Just found your site via Pharyngula's Frappr.)