Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

I think the single thing that's bothered me most about the last few years is that people always seem to act so small. I almost never see a story about unselfishness, or someone doing something noble.

Which is why I was so struck with a story about Sir Edmund Hillary, who passed away on January 11th. He, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, reached the summitt of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. They were the first in history to reach the summit, and it was a monumental, incredible achievement.

Here's an excerpt from a Sports Illustrated story that appeared in last week's issue:
When he and Norgay did reach lower terra they allowed the story that Norgay had actually reached the summit first. Hillary was happy, too, for it gave greater pride to the Nepalese, whom he loved and dedicated most of the rest of his life to with good works.

...After Norgay revealed, just before he died in 1986, that in fact Hillary had reached the summit a few steps before him, Hillary also acknowledged the fact. But, he said, it really didn't matter who was technically first. It was a team game.

So for over three decades, Hillary gave the ultimate recognition to his partner, even though he had actually been the first to reach the summit, and he did so because of what he knew it would mean to Nepal.

That has to be one of the most gracious gestures I've ever seen.

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