My Facebook Thoughts

Friday, September 25, 2009


The United States is a week away from finding out whether or not Chicago will be chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games. I love the Olympics. I love Chicago. I would love to see Chicago be the center of the world's attention for two weeks. Good luck Chicago.

Often, too often, in sports winners are described as heroes. I do not mean to diminish their efforts or triumphs, but today's blog is going to be about a true hero. We're going to need a different word for sport heroes.

This week I received an email forward from my friend Dora. Like everybody with an email address I get L-O-T-S of email forwards.
Most are for prayers, no problem.
Many are full of old incorrect information, Bill Gates is not giving you anything ever.
A lot are about politics, Obama was born in the U.S. get over it.
Some are cute and funny, that baby laughing gets me every time.
Few are inspiring, ever hear of Irena Sendler?

I had never heard of Irena Sendler before this week nor will I ever forget her either.

Irena was a Polish woman born in Warsaw in 1910. She was a social worker in Warsaw during WWII. She saw what the Nazi regime was doing to the Jews and decided she had, HAD, to do something, anything.

Irena, with no regard for her own safety, began lying to the Nazis in any way she could to get Jewish children away from the death camps. She would create false documents for the children that would allow her to take the children away from the Warsaw Ghetto. She would convince the parents that she would get families to raise the children away from the Nazis. The parents, knowing what awaited them, would agree.

Sometimes infants would be hidden in toolboxes or sacks to get past Nazi guards. At times a dog would be used to distract the guards or to drowned out the sounds of the children being smuggled away to freedom.

Irena would carefully document the real identities of the children and what their fake identities would be. She noted where they came from and where they were going. Her lists were saved in jars and buried. When it was safe, she would attempt to reunite the families.

Now, the Nazis, although brainless, eventually discovered what Irena had been doing. She was captured and sent to prison. She was tortured, her leg and foot broken and had been scheduled to be executed.

An underground group, Zegota, was able to bribe a guard to get Irena released. Irena, was to go into hiding for the duration of the war.

Because of Irena 2500 children were spared the indignation of the Nazi death camps, 2500.

Please note, I have paraphrased Irena's story, but hope you can still grasp the magnitude of her actions in the face of pure evil.

Because I had never heard this grand story I did my research and found it to be 100% true. And even more amazing this story almost went untold.

A teacher in Kansas had a school project, a newspaper clipping and some willing students to find the truth. The students, as part of the project, discovered all the truths about what Irena had done. They eventually wrote a play, "Life in a Jar", to help tell the story.

The students also discovered that Irena was still alive. They even had the opportunity to meet this true hero.

Irena's heroic efforts are now well documented and the whole world is hearing her story. One person can make a world of difference. Chances are, thank God, none of us will be faced with such a huge situation. But, we must know that each of us can impact others by our actions and we can not let walls get in our way.

You can learn more about Irena's story at;
Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project


bill said...

wow! what a great person. that is inspiring. i would love to hear from some of the kids that she saved.

if you haven't seen the movie: The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, which everyone is talking about, it deals with the same subject matter.

i also recently watched another movie about the holocaust called: Everything is Illuminated.

both very good movies and both instant on netflix.

i thought that the second movie was the better of the two.

Mark Ploch said...

I will look those up.

Anonymous said...

Her story should be required reading for every American. Good post Mark.

Dora said...

Hey Mark. It's me Dora. I just got home from my daughter's State Championship softball game and was very happy to see your Blog about our Hero. Thank you so much for sharing this remarkable woman with your friends through your Blog. She definitely needs all the recognition she deserves. I agree with your friend's response that said that Irena's story should be required reading by all Americans. I am also so glad that I sent you Irena's story because I am very happy that you enjoyed it as much as I did. Have a great weekend!!!!

Mark Ploch said...


When I started this blog my goal was to communicate, entertain and to educate. Thank you for the assist.

PeaKay40 said...

Great Blog Mark.
I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame
program in April and it was one of the best I've seen. This woman was
incredible. I too believe it should be required reading at some
level for all school children.
This type of story can make a hugh
impact on the children of today. Perhaps they will appreciate all that they have. These children that
Irena saved could teach a real lesson to the masses today.

Thanks for the reminder. Also.....
I'm going to look for the movies that Bill suggested.

Tara said...

That is a remarkable story. I read a story about her last year and could not believe that was the first time I had heard of her.