Happy Thanksgiving!

In the United States this is Thanksgiving weekend – a time when we give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

I want to thank you for subscribing and being a part of HeroicStories. I’m grateful for the reception and honored for the privilege of appearing in your inbox a couple of times a week.

In case you missed it: we’re accepting new story submissions! In fact, I could use a few more. I’m hoping to start posting new stories by the end of the year. Check out the submission guidelines for instructions.

Now, on to the stories from the last four weeks…

He Called it “Quits”

An iconic sci-fi celebrity makes a difference in one man’s life … by caring and describing the future that he’d already seen.

As I shared with a friend my biggest hope and fear was that George Takei would notice this story and share it with his followers. That would be fantastic for HeroicStories – and probably crash the HeroicStories server (which also hosts Ask Leo!) within minutes. Hasn’t happened yet.

Jocelyn shared: “All it takes is one person to say the same thing that you have heard thousands of times “Yes I mind, do not smoke”. I keep saying it to my sister and one of these days she WILL quit!” We all hope so!

Diane added: “I told my mother to quit when I found out her sister, my aunt, died of lung cancer in the middle 80s. At the time she told me, “Don’t talk to your mother like that”. At that point I never mentioned to her about quitting again. Flash forward to 2012, during a phone call, my mother appologized to me about the way she answered me when I told her to stop smoking. At the time of the call, she told me that she had just been diagnosed with emphysema. I about fell out of my chair, and I also thanked her for the appology. She actually stopped smoking in the middle 90s probably because of my father’s vascular dementia. I believe she stopped because she was afraid that my dad would forget where he put his cigarette. However, she still had at least ten years without smoking, so at least when her emphsema was diagnosed it was not in the terminal stage. I hope that anyone who has loved ones take the time to stop smoking. Stopping smoking extends lives and the lives around them.”

Let the Sun Shine

Stereotypes fall with a simple act of groovy kindness.

John P. commented: “Which again goes to prove that ‘Looks can be deceiving’. It is similar to the impression that many people have about bikers – they only know what they see on TV or in the media. Unfortunately, the media often only shows the troublemakers and not the majority of people who ride and are very helpful.”

Donna H says: “Reading this just put a smile on my face. I was one of those hippy-yippies and was indeed judged solely by the clothes I wore and the car I drove. This is something my friends and I would have done. Times have changed, haven’t they?” Putting a smile on your face? Once again, HeroicStories seems to have achieved its goal. 🙂

John Burns adds: “Isn’t it beautiful to see someone lose ingrained bigotry! More people should try it.” I couldn’t have said it better.

The Tailor’s Sacrifice

A man sells his only means of production – so that his new American sister-in-law can make ends meet and complete her school project.

Richard Wills comments: “Totally enjoyed this marvelous and moving story. The author learned a most valuable lesson concerning what really matters. Thank you.”

PrincessFiona60 says: “The value that others attach to ‘things’ is astounding, things can be reaquired…people cannot. In order to keep our families together, sometimes we HAVE to give up our things.”


In the mountains of Lesotho, a poor school teacher changes the countryside … one tree at a time.

Randy Cassingham comments: “This story illustrates one of my favorite sayings: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ –Chinese Proverb”

Hans adds: “The theme of planting trees to save the environment is inspiring. It is known in other cultures as well. In 2009 the film “The man who stopped the desert” was made about a Mr Yakouba, who singlehandedly prevented the Sahel desert advancing in his village in Burkina Faso by planting trees. In France I saw a children’s book about a man who all his life planted acorns, creating large oak forests. He just went everywhere, his pockets full of acorns, and people thought he was nuts, until one day they realised that the rich forests were his work. Unfortunately I can’t remember the author nor the title. Maybe other readers know more examples?”

Several readers asked if we had any updates – I’m sorry to say that as of this writing I do not. I’m always hopeful that since these articles are now published and archived on the web site that someday, someone who has information will let us know.

The Troubled Mr. Wong

A Taiwanese taxi driver, in fear after saving a suicidal girl, gets thoughtful advice from a young psychology student.

Justin says: “It’s too bad that there are those that let superstition or beliefs hinder the desire to help our fellow man. Perhaps there will be children of the woman he saved who will someday say thank you for risking his own life to save hers… and allowing them to live.” I think you’ve touched on perhaps the most important lesson from this story.

Eve adds: “I believe there are two heros in Mr. Wong’s tale. Obviously Mr. Wong put himself out to save the young women, even though it later bothered him, especially in light of his beliefs. However, our young psychology student was also a hero because rather than giving into his first instinct, he reassured Mr. Wong in a way that not only respected his beliefs but also could uplift him.”

Kim Angevine contributes: “I’m an ESL teacher who has lived in Taipei, Taiwan for 30 years. I first read this story on June 26, 2001 and because I was teaching in Taipei, I decided to share it with my students. I thought it would be interesting for them to see how people from other countries viewed them. In the early years, many of my students agreed with the taxi drivers of the story. They also said the taxi driver shouldn’t have interfered because it was not up to him to change fate. They also said, if you save someone’s life than you are responsible for that person’s life. For this reason, they thought the taxi driver was taking on too much responsibility. Nowadays,the younger generation think the taxi driver did the right thing.” It’s very interesting to see attitudes change. Thanks for your update!

Unexpected Joy

Alone for Christmas, a deaf man receives a wonderful holiday message … with words he can’t even hear.

Gurubandhu says: “Actually, there are two heros here. I think Donald is being modest. He made the kid’s day also. It must have happened quite a long time ago since the newspaper is so cheap. Congrats to both.”

Talk With Bob and Be Honest

At the depths of despair an addict recovers thanks to the help of a caring coworker with whom he was inspired to share his story.

As I’ve said before, I absolutely love updates … this story has one:

Kevin S says: Just an update from a recovering addict. It’s been 12 years since I wrote that story and my how my life has changed. I married the love of my life. I’ve moved to Florida in ’04 and am surrounded by people that I love and love me. I have a beautiful home and wonderful wife. I pray, read, work and live my life clean and happy. ‘No Matter What!’ I still think about what might have been, and that helps me strive to be happy joyous and free. Thanx Bob for helping me to find and have a life. Kevin S South Florida, USA”

Thank you for sharing the great news, Kevin.

In the Hearts of Mankind

A neighborhood comes together to help a family after a house fire and in doing so remind us all of the human spirit.

Steve comments: “This experience shows once again: most people want to help others, they are looking for the opportunity even if they don’t know it. If you really have needs because of circumstances, not laziness, most people are willing and eager to help. This was a most unfortunate experience, but it broke through the cultural barriers of “embarrassed to need” and “afraid to give”, help. Any time we can get past the first one, and be served, it serves the giver too.”

betty frank says: “I truly believe most people are good, kind and GIVING. You DID have angels, disguised as your neighbors. If we all ‘answer the call’ whenever the need arises, we will have a much better world. I just love helping out someone who cannot repay me……..it is so fun. When they want to repay in some way, I just tell them “someday when you see the need, just DO IT.”

Remember: if you have a real story of everyday heroism we’d love to hear it. Check out the submission guidelines for the “how to” submit your story for publication in HeroicStories.

Until next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

1 thought on “Happy Thanksgiving!”

  1. The French book you’re looking for is “L’homme qui plantait des arbres” (that translates into The man who planted trees, the actual English title being “The man who planted hope and grew happiness”) from Jean GIONO, written in 1953.

    Best regards,

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