I love stories that bring to life those heroic acts. Sometimes the hero is not only the soldier in uniform, but the citizen who provided aid. Such is the case of Roger Birkman. During WWII, American pilots made many bombing runs between England and Germany before the Normandy invasion. Roger Birkman piloted a B-17 and was returning from a mission when his plane was shot down by German artillery over Belgium. All ten members of the crew parachuted out of the failing aircraft and found themselves on the ground in enemy territory. Belgium farmers immediately came to Birkman’s rescue and initiated a process of hiding him from the German occupiers. In particular, one couple, Georges and Marie Smet, sheltered Birkman until after D-Day.
Upon reflection Roger Birkman stated, “They saved my life and their house made me invisible.”
That too is an act of heroism. This was a dangerous act on behalf of a foreigner. This is a story of salvation and friendship. This is the story of an American hero and a Belgium hero who worked together to help procure freedom for many. Here is the rest of the story as recorded in the Wall Street Journal. It is worth reading and reflecting upon during this special day.
P.S. Roger Birkman is an organizational psychologist and the creator of the Birkman Assessment Method. This is a well used and profitable tool for the discovery of personal and team strengths towards leadership.