Most Influential Heroes and Inspirers of the 20th Century according to Time 100. We need our heroes to make sense of time. Human existence, in the words of TS Eliot, is made up of "undisciplined squads of emotion", and to articulate our "general mess of feeling imprecision" we turn to heroes and icons, the almost sacred modules of humanity with which to analyze and shape our lives.
TIME has chosen a score that articulates the yearnings of the time in which they lived. There are the extraordinary stories: the courage of Charles Lindbergh, the self-denial of Mother Teresa, that of Marilyn Monroe. exuberance, the superhuman abilities of Pelé, the immortality of Anne Frank. And the parables: Kennedy's melodrama, the silence of Muhammad Ali's last days, the brutal grace of Bruce Lee's art, the all-too-human Diana, Lindbergh 'flirting with Hitler. Iconoclasm is inherent in each icon, and heroes can wear different faces in later lives that are given to them by history and memory.
Legend has it that the 8th century Chinese poet Li Po, drunk on wine, tried to hug the moon reflected in a lake. He drowned in the clutch. He should have continued to embrace flesh and blood stories rather than the surreal. Because it is the heroes, through their triumphs and follies, who teach us how to live.
- Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion, floating, stinging, punching, prophesying, transformed his sport and became the most adored athlete in the world.
- The American soldier, a soldier for freedom
- Diana, Princess of Wales, why couldn't we take our eyes off her? Was it because she made a sign? Or was there something else we yearned for?
- Anne Frank, chronicler and victim of the Holocaust, with a diary kept in a secret attic, defied the Nazis and lent a fiery voice to the fight for human dignity.
- Evangelist Billy Graham, transcending doctrine and denomination, served as the nation's spiritual advisor and made America a safe place for public testimonies of faith.
- Che Guevara, guerrilla leader, although communism may have lost its fire, remains the powerful symbol of rebellion and the attractive zeal of the revolution.
- Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay, conquerors of Mount Everest, by conquering Everest, the beekeeper and the Sherpa affirmed the power of humble determination and won one for the underdog everywhere.
- Helen Keller, champion of the disabled, she altered our perception of the disabled and reassigned the limits of sight and senses.
- The Kennedys, a dynasty, with its blend of political triumph and human tragedy, their saga captivated the nation and made them the most powerful family in America.
- Bruce Lee, actor and martial arts star, with nothing but his hands, feet and a lot of attitude, turned the little boy into a tough guy.
- Charles Lindbergh, a transatlantic aviator, was the first hero of the century and unknowingly pioneered the age of media celebrity.
- Harvey Milk, a gay rights leader, people told him that no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them.
- Marilyn Monroe, an actress, walked through life as the most delightful sex symbol of the century and became her most enduring pop confection.
- Emmeline Pankhurst, suffragette, Victorian English organized the suffrage movement, which won the vote of women.
- Rosa Parks, bearer of the civil rights torch, her simple act of protest galvanized the civil rights revolution in America.
- Soccer star Pele dominated soccer for two decades with a passion matched only by that of her fans around the world.
- Baseball player Jackie Robinson thrilled fans, broke baseball's color barrier, and changed the face of the nation.
- Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, by boldly speaking the truth to power, became the conscience of the cold war and inspired the movement that overthrew Soviet communism.
- Mother Teresa, missionary nun
- Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, from the rubble of a wasted life, overcame alcoholism and founded the 12-step program that has helped millions of people do the same.
Information taken from Time.
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