By Ann Silverthorn
It’s easy to come up with names of heroes for inspiration, isn’t it? The first to come to mind are those extraordinary people we learned about in school, or contemporary figures who made the news. Many of these figured in famous battles and other conflicts. But what about the lesser-known, peace-minded heroes?
One unknown individual who received recent accolades in film is Desmond Doss, the Army medic whose religious beliefs would not permit him to carry a gun in World War II. Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield, was nominated for several Academy Awards, and it won best film editing and best sound mixing. The film tells the story of a man who demonstrated extraordinary courage when he risked his own life to save several of his fellow soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. In addition to spectacular cinematography, it also serves as a source of inspiration for many.
Looking for inspiration from more extraordinary, everyday people like Desmond Doss? Here’s a list of six more films about everyday heroes who made a difference with peaceful methods.
In the jungle of Papua, New Guinea, a missionary couple learn the language of the local people and begin teaching them about religion. Peace Child recalls the conflict that resulted between two villages and the couple decide to go home, but then the tribal leaders come up with an ingenious solution to ensure long-lasting peace.
Rare would be the person who doesn’t recognize the name, Schindler, as the German factory owner who helped save more than a thousand Jews during World War II. At the time, he was just a greedy businessman, but Schindler’s List shows how a self-centered person can redeem his own life while saving the lives of many others.
When filmmaker, Jeremy Gilley, asks the question whether one person can really make a difference, he becomes one of those people. It was through his efforts that the United Nations officially named an International Day of Peace. Peace One Day is a documentary that tells the story about Gilley’s success in helping to establish a global ceasefire day.
Does the name Paul Rusesabagina ring a bell? Maybe not, but Hotel Rwanda probably does. This film tells the story of a hotel manager who sees genocide all around him and finds the courage to save the lives of more than a thousand refugees.
Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest was unknown until shortly after 9/11. He was onsite after the towers were hit and attempting to minister to the dying when he became a victim himself. This documentary tells the story of the New York City Fire Department chaplain’s flawed but ultimately heroic life, now known as the Saint of 9/11.
This recent documentary reaches back in time to World War II when Nazis were rounding up and exterminating Italian Jews. A cycling champ named Gino Bartali and some friends risked their lives and saved thousands of Italian Jews from capture. My Italian Secret stars Isabella Rossellini and Robert Loggia.