What makes a hero? The actual dictionary definition of heroism is "great bravery" but what does that broad description really mean? I tackle my crippling fear of spiders every time I squash one that has wondered into my bedroom and though it's a brave move it is not heroic. Some may say that performing a selfless act that saves another's life is heroism and others think sacrificing ones self in the line of duty is truly heroic. Though these statements are true I think that the definition can be widened to say that heroism is great bravery in the face of much adversary and with a selfless heart. I think this new definition can be ascribed to the people who grace the stamps I am discussing today. The following people are very brave and indeed true Canadian heroes that are forever immortalized on postage stamps so that the future generations can appreciate all they did for this great country.
Viola Irene Desmond (July 6, 1914 – February 7, 1965) was a Black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial segregation at a film theater in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946. She refused to leave a whites-only area of the Roseland Theater and was unjustly convicted of a minor tax violation used to enforce segregation. Desmond's case is one of the most publicized incidents of racial discrimination in Canadian history and helped start the modern civil rights movement in Canada. Desmond acted nine years before the famed incident by civil-rights activist Rosa Parks, with whom Desmond is often compared. Desmond was granted a posthumous pardon, the first to be granted in Canada. The government of Nova Scotia also apologized for convicting her for tax evasion and acknowledged she was rightfully resisting racial discrimination.
Laura Secord (13 September 1775 – 17 October 1868) was a Canadian heroine of the War of 1812. She is known for having walked 20 miles (32 km) out of American-occupied territory in 1813 to warn British forces of an impending American attack. Her contribution to the war was little known during her lifetime, but since her death she has been frequently honoured in Canada. Her effort was forgotten until 1860, when Edward, Prince of Wales awarded the impoverished widow £100 for her service on his visit to Canada.The story of Laura Secord has taken on mythological overtones in Canada. Her tale has been the subject of books, plays, and poetry, often with many embellishments. Since her death, Canada has bestowed honours on her, including schools named after her, monuments, a museum, a memorial stamp and coin, and a statue at the Valiants Memorial in the Canadian capital.
Henry Norman Bethune (March 4, 1890 – November 12, 1939) was a Canadian physician, medical innovator, and noted anti-fascist. Bethune came to international prominence first for his service as a front line surgeon supporting the democratically elected Republican government during the Spanish Civil War. But it was his service with the Communist Eighth Route Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War that would earn him enduring acclaim. Dr. Bethune effectively brought modern medicine to rural China and often treated sick villagers as much as wounded soldiers. His selfless commitment made a profound impression on the Chinese people, especially CPC's leader, Mao Zedong. The chairman wrote a famous eulogy to him, which was memorized by generations of Chinese people. While Bethune was the man responsible for developing a mobile blood-transfusion service for front line operations in the Spanish Civil War, he himself died of blood poisoning while working on a patient without gloves as he didn't have time to put them on before nicking himself on a medical instrument. A prominent Communist and veteran of the First World War, he wrote that wars were motivated by profits, not principles. Statues in his honor can be found in cities throughout China.
Is one of your heroes on a postage stamp? Leave a comment down below and tell us all about it!