Posts Tagged ‘inspirational’

The Hero of Canton* Is Made of Happy

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Here’s the thing. I know images are powerful and having one here would grab more readers. But I hope this article can stand on its own. It’s a good one.

IN the weeks just before Christmas of 1933 — 75 years ago — a mysterious offer appeared in The Repository, the daily newspaper here. It was addressed to all who were suffering in that other winter of discontent known as the Great Depression. The bleakest of holiday seasons was upon them, and the offer promised modest relief to those willing to write in and speak of their struggles. In return, the donor, a “Mr. B. Virdot,” pledged to provide a check to the neediest to tide them over the holidays.

The writer found out who the mysterious benefactor was, through a case of papers he got from his mother. It was his grandfather. The case was full of letters from people.

A lot of people wrote him letters asking for help. 75 people received money from this mystery man. They also wrote him thank you letters. Here is one of them.

A father wrote: “It was put to good use paying for two pairs of shoes for my girls and other little necessities. I hope some day I have the pleasure of knowing to whom we are indebted for this very generous gift.”

That was from George W. Monnot, who had once owned a successful Ford dealership but whose reluctance to lay off his salesmen hastened his own financial collapse, his granddaughter told me.

He also acted in other instances to help people.

His yuletide gift was not to be his only such gesture. In the same black suitcase were receipts hinting at other anonymous acts of kindness. The year before the United States entered World War II, for instance, he sent hundreds of wool overcoats to British soldiers. In the pocket of each was a handwritten note, unsigned, urging them not to give in to despair and expressing America’s support.

Like many in his generation, my grandfather believed in hard work, and disdained handouts. In 1981, at age 93, he died driving himself to the office, crashing while trying to beat a rising drawbridge. But he could never ignore the brutal reality of times when work was simply not to be had and self-reliance reached its limits. He sought no credit for acts of conscience. He saw them as the debt we owe one another and ourselves.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Hard Times, a Helping Hand –

Thank you, Ted Gup, for writing this editorial about your grandfather. May his memory live on through the legacy of the people who were helped by him, and who also turn around to help others in need. These are hard times, but this is when we should most think to reach out to help others in greater need. Thank you for this reminder and thank you for such an inspiring tale.

*Note: I assume we nerds can unite on this little reference here. Oh, yeah, the guy is from Canton, Ohio. 🙂

Leaving Grad School Is Made of Happy

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Ok, I’m joking about the title. 🙂 I stumbled upon a user on YouTube who took part in a challenge called Project For Awesome by Nerdfighters, which could only be made of awesome and perfect for this blog, so I naturally had to check it out.

There are a ton of Project for Awesome videos worth checking out, by the way.

The video I selected was one of the first ones I stumbled on. I have a lot of conflicted feelings on the nature & method of charity work abroad and particularly in the framing of the relationship between a first world nation and a third world nation (I don’t want to get political on this site, so please email me at if you want to discuss this), but regardless of how I feel about any specific methods, I admire Sean’s conviction in deciding to change the course of his life by leaving grad school so that he can make a difference in other people’s lives. I have been looking for the full length video for the lecture that Dr. Jeffrey Sachs gave that Sean says inspired him, so if you know where I can find it, please leave me a comment. Thanks!

The Nerdfighters, Project for Awesome and Sean & his Uncultured Project are all made of happy and I am glad to have found them.

The Last Lecture

Friday, December 12th, 2008

This is an old video and you may have seen it before. In fact, you probably have. But it deserves its place here. Here is the description from the YouTube page for the lecture.

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit

Professor Pausch gave this lecture after having been diagnosed with brain cancer. The very fact that he can give hope and inspire others to achieve in his own situation is remarkable. On top of that, the lecture itself is one that stays with you. This is the kind of real-life hero to admire. He brings me hope in humanity, that we can individually contribute to a better future.