So I found a new American Hero this year. His name is Jordan Blue and he is a high school student at Baraboo High School in Wisconson. A photo of him during his heroic act shows him in an old timey tuxedo, quarky, with a red bow tie and pocket square, standing in a group prom photo surrounded by all of his male classmates laughing while giving the Nazi salute.
He is on the top row, on the right side. There is extra space separating him from his classmates as if he were trying to inch away and disappear. He is the only one in the photo not lifting his arm. It’s his facial expression that gets to me. His chin is lifted in defiance, his jaw is set and his eyes are looking over the heads of all his classmates. He’s standing with a straight spine, his arms glued to his side.
The photo finally came out all over social media and it turns out that it was the photographer’s hilarious idea to throw up the Nazi salute in a prom picture but all the kids got right on board. The students have wide mouthed grins as they do the salute, one is slightly bent over he is guffawing so hard. But not Jordan Blue, for some reason he is the only one there that understands the sadness and seriousness of the situation. He seems serene and other worldly in understanding how wrong it all is.
Asked later about his experience in that moment he said, “It did not represent my morals, and I could not do something that I didn’t believe in.”
I love him for this. Even with the pressures of an adult ordering the action and having every single one of his classmates go along with it, he refuses. It’s an act of rebellion and it is an act of heroism. It made me start to think about how all acts of heroism are acts of rebellion, of refusing to go with the norms. It’s shaking off someone’s arm that is trying to stop you from running into the burning building to save a dog. It’s speaking out when the room is against you and the pressure to stay silent feels like a physical weight. It’s not going along with everyone else because it’s easier.
Thank you Jordan Blue, for being an heroic rebel to inspire us all.