Famous Examples of Bravery

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Bravery: it can hit any of us at any time and quick thinking overtakes any fears we might have about our own safety. Throughout history, men and women have displayed some of the most amazing acts of bravery putting their own lives at risk to save others. Here is a list of some of the most interesting acts of bravery ‘ some individual, and some large sweeping gestures


1. Rosa Parks


Considered one of the bravest acts of defiance in the whole Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus ‘ a designated area for coloureds ‘ and when challenged by bus authorities to make way for a white passenger, she refused and was arrested and fined. The move led to a massive boycotting of buses by the black population of Montgomery, Alabama, a protest that soon spread across the south. Rosa Parks became a champion of the movement. She died in 2005

2. Tiananmen Square 1989


The unnamed and unknown single protester became the figure of the year. A group of students led demonstrations in the iconic square ‘ they were supported by a lot of the Chinese population which led to the government cracking down on protestors and killing a number of civilians who were involved. The single man stood in front of a line of Type 59 tanks holding a flag and stopping their progress along the street ‘ the protest brought divisions in China to the attention of the world

3. Oskar Schindler


A totalitarian government is always a difficult place to live, even if you are a member of the party. Schindler was a flawed human being ‘ a hard living, heavy drinking, womanising industrialist who took advantage of slavery of the Jews. Yet something changed and Schindler dedicated the last few years of the war to preserving the lives of some 1200 Jews who worked for him. He spent every last Mark that he had in order to keep the ‘Schindler Jews’ safe from being sent to the gas chambers ‘ risking his own life in the process with the number of bribes he gave out

4. The Passengers of United 93


There are many stories of bravery from 9/11 but most of them are acts of trained individuals doing their jobs ‘ admittedly under unusual circumstances. Nothing can really compare to a group of passengers standing up to hijackers and attempting to take back the aircraft from whatever fate faced them. They took a vote, decided to act and then broke into the cockpit. Realising they couldn’t resist the revolt, the hijackers decided to ditch the aircraft – killing all on board. A permanent memorial is presently planned for the field in which it crashed

5. Thich Quang Duc


Dying for one’s beliefs is seen as something common to most religions but dying for the greater good is far rarer. The Vietnam War was the first truly televised war and this Buddhist monk, protesting the treatment of Buddhists within South Vietnam, burned himself at a junction on a street in Saigon. The photograph was seen around the world and soon came to the attention of President John F. Kennedy. It led to wider protests that would eventually see the toppling of the South Vietnam government

6. 300 Spartans


Sparta is considered to have had the finest fighting culture of the ancient world before the rise of Rome. Hearing of Persian advance into Greece, the militaristic Sparta sent 300 of its finest hoplites and a number of allies to Thermopylae (The Hot Gates). Hopelessly outnumbered (perhaps by as many as 50-1) they held the pass for three days before a betrayal allowed the Persian forces to surround the Greeks. King Leonidas dismissed the allies and remained behind with 300 Spartans and a handful of allies. They were all killed but managed to slow the advance and allow Athens to rally a number of other Greek cities

7. Kate Winslet


While everyday people are known for random acts of bravery, we rarely hear about truly courageous acts by celebrities. Kate Winslet stands head and shoulders above so many for rescuing tycoon Richard Branson’s mother from a burning house in 2011. When his estate in the Virgin Islands was struck by lightning by Hurricane Irene, Winslet removed the children to safety and then went back into the burning house to rescue his mother. Eventually, the house burnt down so it was no small fire that inspired her act of bravery

8. Vin Diesel


Another act of celebrity heroism saw Vin Diesel out on his motorcycle one night. During the course of his journey, he witnessed a car in front of him lose control, spin off of the road, roll over and burst into flames. The quick thinking action hero stopped his bike and rushed to the vehicle. His first act was to pull the children from the back seat; then, once they were safe, he helped the adults escape over the front seats and out of the back. The car burst into flames almost as soon as they were clear

9. The Little Ships


People can and do step up to the plate in times of war. The strategic withdrawal of Allied Forces from France via Dunkirk after a disastrous campaign to break through German lines led to one of the greatest acts of bravery of WWII. It is June 1940 and some 338,000 British and French soldiers were trapped on the beaches of northern France awaiting rescue. It could have been a disaster but the fleet of ‘Little Ships’ sailed across the channel risking mines and German U-Boats to rescue the soldiers. The Little Ships were defenceless commercial vessels ‘ they were largely fishing boats, private boats and ferries ‘ most making multiple trips

10. Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Standing up to religion in itself can be brave but when you come from a socially conservative country practising a socially conservative version of a socially conservative religion such as Islam, you are bound to get a lot of negative press – including death threats. Ayaan Hirsi Ali publicly denounced Islam and became an atheist in 2002. She wrote the screenplay for the film Submission, the release of which Theo Van Gogh was assassinated in 2004. Ali has been a vocal campaigner against a number of gender issues specifically related to Islam



It can happen to any one of us at any time; how we react to the things that go on around us is an important part of what it means to be human. Acts of bravery in war, to save a child, to preserve our own lives ‘ we put ourselves in the line of fire into places that could kill us trying to save the life of another.

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One Response

  1. k burns

    April 20, 2017 11:12 am

    Lovely story, but you need to edit. I love good stories, but sometimes if the sentence structure is the way it should be, it makes the story have more impact.


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