FORT SCOTT, Kans. — Not everyone that makes a significant contribution to the world around them becomes a household name. But that doesn’t mean their story is any less courageous. A facility devoted to promoting its efforts is celebrating a milestone.
Norm Conard is the executive director of the Lowell Milken Center For Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, and he says it’s hard to believe how long the facility has been open and how many amazing, yet not well-known, stories school children have uncovered in that time.
“We had a dream that was born in Fort Scott, the dream was a museum of unsung heroes and role models that has reached three million students in 50 states,” said Norm Conard, Exec. Dir., Lowell Milken Center For Unsung Heroes.
The Center highlights people who’ve played a significant role in the lives of others but aren’t household names. Conard was a history teacher in Uniontown several years ago when a group of his students uncovered the life story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker that secretly saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children living in the Warsaw Poland Ghetto in World War II. She snuck them into the homes of Christian families, preventing them from dying at the hands of the Germans.
“We had no idea what was ahead, the hundred days of slaughter, more than a million people killed,” said Carl Wilkens, Unsung Hero.
Carl Wilkens, was a Christian missionary and was the only American to stay in the war-torn African country of Rwanda when civil war broke out there in 1994. Students learned about his bravery and thought everyone else should know his story, too.
“Kids always inspire us all right, and to see the depth that the students have gone in digging into stories by their own inspiration, their own curiosity, it’s just exciting to see and it snowballs it’s growing and that’s, that’s really exciting to be part of that,” said Wilkens.
Skipper Higgins is the grandson of unsung hero Andrew Jackson Higgins, who designed and built thousands of landing crafts used by U.S. soldiers to invade Asian islands in the Pacific and the beaches of Omaha in Europe during World War II. Students also brought his relative’s achievement to light as well.
“It’s just an amazing place, absolutely amazing, and then the core purpose of it is education and enlightenment of students all over America and all over the world, oh my goodness, it’s just unbelievable,” said Higgins.