Be a Hero Contest—2017

Be a Hero Contest—2017

At this precarious time in the United States, we need people to be heroes. In that spirit, we invited you to write a story in 50 words or fewer about a hero, someone who fought for the right thing in a way that called for courage and commitment.

We sent three hero stories to each of the 100 U.S. senators and the 435 members of the House of Representatives, along with an entreaty for them to be heroes, protecting our country by standing up for what is obviously right, despite any political risk.

Here we present the winner and finalists.


Mrs. Gies kisses the Nazi and invites him inside. He accepts coffee, though he can’t stay for cake. “These raids are killing me,” says the Nazi. “All these undesirables, still hiding out. It's endless.” When he’s gone, she leaves his uneaten cake upstairs, in the attic that doesn't officially exist.

Hannah Froggatt
London, Great Britain


Mary had Down syndrome and extraordinary hearing. All those whispers of pity and mocking. She got her first period in the lunch line, wearing her bright yellow skirt. No whispers, just cackles. Mark, skinny, with pimples, stood up and put his arm around her. Several cackles bounced off his shoulder.

Patrick Cabello Hansel
Minneapolis, Minnesota

In the Tokyo twilight, the map was an inscrutable maze. He put his briefcase down with difficulty, and asked me, a westerner, gently, if I needed help. We worked out my route together. “Thank you,” I said. “Where are you from?” “Hiroshima,” he said, and smiled.

It starts with forgiveness.

Joanna Rubery
Stafford, Great Britain

Often standing alone against the onslaught of consumerism, my hero only charges late fees in order to continue to provide free books to other patrons. My hero promotes equality, lets the homeless sleep inside itself, and worships at the altar of knowledge. Shhh, you're in a library.

Bowen Craig
Athens, Georgia

Also Great…

We asked our three Spring '17 Interns to create samples to go with our contest instructions. These are worth reading too:

In his youth, he’d obsessed over building model aircrafts. Now 61, he believes the most exciting machine is a human being. In Syria, he healed, suture by suture, as other doctors took notes. A child wriggling on the operating table, his and so many other lives on the line.

Monica Lo
Brooklyn, New York

She moved from her fourth house after packing her life in 126 boxes. She closed the door to her second heartbreak and started again with her three daughters at her side. Even though she didn’t have a house, she made sure her daughters had a home.

Emilia Costantini
Bologna, Italy

She’s seventeen, but could pass for twenty-five. The lines on her face have grown darker each night since they’ve arrived. But she won’t let the planned construction of this pipeline uproot her heritage and deface her ancestral land. She’ll fight until she’s dead; she’ll fight like her ancestors did.

Diego Brindis
New York, New York
The contest is closed.