58 Of The Coolest People In History, As Shared In This Online Thread
History is an endless source of adventure — just picture the bold battles, revolutionary events, and celebrated figures of our past. Sure, they might seem distant at first, but they also offer great insight into what shaped our world today.
Plenty of incredible people made it into textbooks and the minds of anyone who ever stepped foot into a history class. But some heroes did remarkable things yet didn’t get the recognition they fully deserved. That's why Reddit user mrnutterbutter123 felt the urge to find out who are some of the coolest people that ever walked this Earth.
More than 5.8K members of Ask Reddit rolled up their sleeves, shared their knowledge, and reignited our passion for the subject. From Andre the Giant to Tiananmen Square Tank Man, Bored Panda handpicked some of the best answers that vividly illustrate how our past is brimming with people who led fascinating lives. So continue scrolling and upvote your favorites as you go!
#1Alan Turing, a mathematician who saved 2 million lives in WWII just by doing math.
Image credits: Mathgent45
#2Andre the Giant. The guy could drink a case full of beer, then go out in the ring and throw his opponent around like a rag doll.
Image credits: DeathSpiral321
#3Nikola Tesla, for inventing basically everything we use in the modern age.
Image credits: plantainoid
#4Tiananmen Square Tank Man
Armed only with a grocery bag he fearlessly stood down a column of tanks to protest the brutal suppression of peaceful protest by the corrupt and morally bankrupt government of the People’s Republic of China. He dared to openly defy the leadership of China, a feat most modern world leaders who have militaries behind them don’t have the spine to do.
Image credits: schwing_it
#5Tony Iommi. On the very day he was about to quit his job, he got the tips of two of his fingers on his right hand cut off. Thought he would never play guitar again, but he went on the essentially invent heavy metal. That's pretty badass imo.
Image credits: Mega_Septile
#6Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko (née Belova; 12 June [O.S. 30 May] 1916 – 10 October 1974) was a Soviet sniper in the Red Army during World War II, credited with 309 confirmed [take outs], making her the most successful female sniper in history.
Image credits: Nate4800
#7John Brown, an abolitionist who organized a slave revolt, and was hanged for it.
Absolute boss, yet still vilified as being 'too radical' even today.
Image credits: Mablak
#8Witold Pilecki, a man so badass that he voluntarily and secretly went into Auschwitz as a prisoner and spy to gather information; while there he regularly made reports on conditions and also organised resistance. As the the war dragged on and conditions became worse, he then successfully broke out of Auschwitz so that he could personally convince his superiors of the truth, as they found his reports too ghastly to be real.
Image credits: democritusparadise
#9Nellie Bly . Went undercover and endured abuse to cover neglect and abuse in Blackwell’s asylum, went to Mexico and called out the dictator for going after the press and oppressing his people and then fleed/was exiled out of Mexico because of that, traveled the world in 70-something days to prove you could travel the world in 80 days or less (based off the the Jules Verne novel) , also did reporting on the Eastern European front in World War One and also was arrested after she was mistaken for a British Spy, and she did so much more ! Such a bad ass and one of my historical heroes.
Image credits: Cheshire_Cat8888
#10Christopher Lee, the actor behind Count Dooku, Saruman and many others was a certified bad a**. Spy and Nazi killer in WWII. Had a couple heavy metal albums as well.
Image credits: bigmanmac14
#11Michael Collins. Showed up 7 minutes late to negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922, and when he was corrected said “You’ve had 700 years, I’ll take my 7 minutes”
Image credits: pocajohntas
Dude turned down his first Distinguished Combat Medal because he didn't like the general who was supposed to give it to him. All good though, he earned two more. A movie about him would be called too unrealistic if they made one.
Image credits: pm-me-racecars
#13Welles Crowther, aka The Man In The Red Bandana. I’m sure most of us have thought about what it must have been like in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and it must have been debilitatingly petrifying. He was 24 years old working on the 104th floor as an equities trader. Made his way down to the sky lobby of the South Tower and found a badly burned woman, carried her down 17 floors, then went back upstairs to help guide others to the only passable stairwell. Stayed up there helping others and working with the fire department until the towers collapsed. He’s responsible for saving around 20 lives and [passed away] a damn hero.
Image credits: [deleted]
#14Cassius Marcellus Clay
He was an abolitionist politician and certified badass from Kentucky who freed all of his slaves upon inheriting his father’s plantation, letting them stay and paying them a fair wage. He was the OG progressive and did not take s**t from anyone. It’s no wonder Muhammad Ali was named after him.
What is written below isn’t even 10% of the absolute badassery this man accomplished in his life. If you want the full story, check out the dollop episode in the comments.
“Clay had a reputation as a rebel and a fighter. Due to threats on his life, he had become accustomed to carrying two pistols and a knife for protection. He installed a cannon to protect his home and office.”
“In 1845, Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, in Lexington, Kentucky. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection, besides setting up two four-pounder cannons inside.”
“During a political debate in 1843, he survived an assassination attempt by Sam Brown, a hired gun. The scabbard of Clay's Bowie knife was tipped with silver, and in jerking the Bowie knife out in retaliation pulled this scabbard up so that it was just over his heart. Sam Brown's bullet struck the scabbard, and embedded itself in the silver. Despite being shot in the chest, Clay drew his Bowie knife, tackled Brown, cut out his eyes, and finally threw him over an embankment.” This “embankment” was actually the top of the Russell Cave (for which Russell Cave Rd is named after), trivia for any of you native Lexingtonians. It’s on Mt. Brilliant farm just south of Elkhorn Creek, where the event was hosted.
“Clay served in the Mexican–American War as a captain with the 1st Kentucky Cavalry from 1846 to 1847. He opposed the annexation of Texas and expansion of slavery into the Southwest. While making a speech for abolition in 1849, Clay was attacked by the six Turner brothers, who beat, stabbed and tried to shoot him. In the ensuing fight, Clay fought off all six and, using his Bowie knife, [unalived] Cyrus Turner.”
He was instrumental in the institution of the emancipation proclamation: “Recalled to the United States in 1862 to accept a commission from Lincoln as a major general with the Union Army, Clay publicly refused to accept it unless Lincoln would agree to emancipate slaves under Confederate control. Lincoln sent Clay to Kentucky to assess the mood for emancipation there and in the other border states. Following Clay's return to Washington, DC, Lincoln issued the proclamation in late 1862, to take effect in January 1863.”
He was also appointed minister to Russia and was present for the Tsar’s emancipation of the Serfs. And his house has (it’s still standing) an extremely early form of indoor plumbing and central heating that was revolutionary for the time. He donated 10 acres of the land to form Berea College, the first integrated coeducational college in the South. Dude led an extremely interesting life and is, in my opinion, one of the most important unknown and undiscussed figures in American history.
Image credits: johnbrownsbody89
#15Queen Boudica, led an Iceni uprising against the roman army.
Image credits: VloekenenVentileren
#16Sgt. Dipprasad Pun of the royal Gurkha Rifles
He took out 30 Taliban by himself and was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
Image credits: LawVol99
#17Unnamed Viking from the Battle Of Stamford Bridge In 1066;
“By the time the bulk of the English army had arrived, the Vikings on the west side were either slain or fleeing across the bridge. The English advance was then delayed by the need to pass through the choke-point presented by the bridge itself. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has it that a giant Norse axeman (possibly armed with a Dane Axe) blocked the narrow crossing and single-handedly held up the entire English army. The story is that this axeman cut down up to 40 Englishmen and was defeated only when an English soldier floated under the bridge in a half-barrel and thrust his spear through the planks in the bridge, mortally wounding the axeman”
Image credits: succeedaphile
#18Thomas Baker Medal of Honor citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan, The Mariana Islands, 19 June to 7 July 1944. When his entire company was held up by fire from automatic weapons and small-arms fire from strongly fortified enemy positions that commanded the view of the company, Sgt. (then Pvt.) Baker voluntarily took a bazooka and dashed alone to within 100 yards of the enemy. Through heavy rifle and machine gun fire that was directed at him by the enemy, he knocked out the strong point, enabling his company to assault the ridge. Some days later while his company advanced across the open field flanked with obstructions and places of concealment for the enemy, Sgt. Baker again voluntarily took up a position in the rear to protect the company against a surprise attack and came upon two heavily fortified enemy pockets manned by two officers and ten enlisted men which had been bypassed. Without regard for such superior numbers, he unhesitatingly attacked and [unalived] all of them. Five hundred yards farther, he discovered six men of the enemy who had concealed themselves behind our lines and destroyed all of them. On 7 July 1944, the perimeter of which Sgt. Baker was a part was attacked from 3 sides by from 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese. During the early stages of this attack, Sgt. Baker was severely wounded, but he insisted on remaining in the line and fired at the enemy at ranges sometimes as close as 5 yards until his ammunition ran out. Without ammunition and with his weapon battered to uselessness from hand-to-hand combat, he was carried about 50 yards to the rear by a comrade, who was then himself wounded. At this point Sgt. Baker refused to be moved any further stating that he preferred to be left to die rather than risk the lives of any more of his friends. A short time later, at his request, he was placed in a sitting position against a small tree. Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier's pistol with its remaining eight rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker's body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying [unalive] before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.
Fortified Japanese positions were holding off an entire US company. Baker was like, “[Screw] it, I’ll do it myself,” grabbed a bazooka, and blew them up enough to allow the company to assault forward
Later, he found two hidden, fortified enemy positions behind friendly lines. He [unalived] all 12 Japanese soldiers in them by himself.
half a kilometer ahead, he found six more Japanese soldiers. He attacked and [unalived] them all himself
Later, the company was attacked by 3,000-5,000 Japanese soldiers on 3 sides. He was wounded, but kept fighting in close combat. When his ammo ran out, he used his rifle as a club until it was broken apart.
when the company had to move, he was too injured to go on. He refused to let men carry him, arguing that it would put multiple lives in danger. They propped him against a tree and gave him a pistol with 8 rounds of ammo
His body was later found in the same position, with 8 [unalive] Japanese soldiers in front of him.
Image credits: Lovebot_AI
On 12/13 May 1945 at Taungdaw, Burma [now Myanmar], Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was manning the most forward post of his platoon which bore the brunt of an attack by at least 200 of the Japanese enemy. Twice he hurled back grenades which had fallen on his trench, but the third exploded in his right hand, blowing off his fingers, shattering his arm and severely wounding him in the face, body and right leg. His two comrades were also badly wounded but the rifleman, now alone and disregarding his wounds, loaded and fired his rifle with his left hand for four hours, calmly waiting for each attack which he met with fire at point blank range.
...Of the 87 enemy dead counted in the immediate vicinity of the Company locality, 31 lay in front of this Rifleman's section, the key to the whole position. Had the enemy succeeded in over-running and occupying Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung's trench, the whole of the reverse slope position would have been completely dominated and turned.
This Rifleman, by his magnificent example, so inspired his comrades to resist the enemy to the last, that, although surrounded and cut off for three days and two nights, they held and smashed every attack.
His outstanding gallantry and extreme devotion to duty, in the face of almost overwhelming odds, were the main factors in the defeat of the enemy.
TL;DR Guy gets surrounded by 200+ Japanese troops, his comrades get taken out and gets left alone, stabs his knife in the floor and declares no Japanese passes that line, throws back several grenades until one explodes, obliterates his hand, injures his arm and face so he just loads his rifle with his other hand and shoots at least 31 [unalive] (literally single handedly). And this lasted for four hours, not a quick 10 minute burst.
The Gurkhas are either brutally heroic or ridiculously insane (or probably both). They will be outmanned and outgunned but they will never be outfought. They would take a knife to a gunfight. And they'd probably win.
Image credits: SaintPhoenix_
#20Frank William Abagnale Jr.
By using a fake identity as an airline pilot, he successfully flew over a million miles on flights and forged company checks. Afraid of getting caught, he filled out his application at an apartment, saying his job was a doctor. He then faked a Harvard degree and became a pediatrician.
At the office, he met a girl whom he called in love with, and lied about also being a lawyer. He left his doctor job after realizing he could [unalive] people. He became a busboy for a local lawyer before quitting and moving to 26 other countries living off fake checks (Approximately $2.5 Million) He was eventually caught...
And then celebrated his 21st birthday.
Facing time in a maximum security prison in France, he broke out and was later deported back to the US. He broke out again by posing as a cop, and after 6 total years in prison, he then worked for the FBI, but without pay.
He has written a book, 'Catch Me If You Can,' which has spun off into a BAFTA winning movie and Tony winning musical.
Image credits: nintendonerd256
#21Olga of Kiev
This lady lost her husband and when it was proposed she marry his murderer, she was like 'sure, send a delegation over so we can talk this out' and they came. She had them dropped in a pit and buried them alive. Then she had another party of men sent to talk about the marriage, and they came. She said, 'hey, it was a long journey, why not come relax in this bathhouse' and they did. She set the bathhouse on fire when they were in it. Then Olga went and sent the Drevilians another message, 'hey bring out the booze i'm coming to mourn my husband's death in your city'. She came, she mourned, she got the Drevilians drunk, and she had them [taken out] by her followers while they were drunk off their asses.
Olga went and got her army, laid siege to the place where her husband was [unalived] for a year, then told them 'I'm willing to forgive and forget if you guys give me a bunch of birds' and the Drevilians did. They turned the birds into mini matches by attaching sulphur to their legs, and then released them. Set the city on fire. Freaking savage.
Image credits: honorableglove
#22Jack Churchill who fought in WWII with a longbow, claymore, and bagpipes. And said after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!”
Image credits: sokonek04
#23Theodora, Byzantine Empress.
She started out as an actress, and the Emperor Justinian fell in love with her. Despite objections, they got married.
During the Nike Revolts, her husband almost fled the city of Constantinople and nearly lost the empire. She stood up to him and reasoned with him, urging him not to leave. He stayed, put down the riots, and went on to lead the empire well for many years with Theodora by his side. His most lasting legacy was a massive overhaul and simplification of 1000 years of Roman/Byzantine law into what is now called the Justinian Code. It's often a model for modern systems of jurisprudence.
Image credits: BookWheat
#24Vasily Arkhipov. Quite litetally stopped WW3 by deciding not to launch a nuclear strike.
Her son (Emmett Till) was lynched because he wolf whistled at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant. Carolyn’s husband and his step brother kidnapped Emmett and had tortured and Murdered him. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River and it was beyond recognizable. When his mother received the body in Chicago she held an open casket to show the world what racism does to black children. Today is actually her birthday so...
Happy Birthday Mrs.Mobley.
In my eyes she is the most bad-ass person in history.
Henrietta Lacks (born Loretta Pleasant; August 1, 1920 – October 4, 1951) was an American woman whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line, the first immortalized human cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research.
#27Renaissance master artist Carravagio was a hard partier, had lots of sex with both men and women, and even [took out] a man who threatened his favorite prostitute.
#28Ernest Evans, United States Navy. Commanding Officer of the USS Johnston DD-557.
Took his 2,000 Ton Destroyer and charged an entire Japanese Armada (including Yamato) by himself, blew the bow off of an Enemy Heavy Cruiser.
Then took 3 18" AP shells and 3 6" rounds from Yamato, lost a couple fingers, and commanded his dying ship from the aft steering station for another hour and a half, routinely bringing his ship into harm's way to save his Carriers.
The Johnston sank, and Evans was last seen abandoning ship with the crew. One man's brazzen actions turned back the bulk of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Served in the military during WW2, world famous actor, race car driver and team owner, business owner (Newman's Own), philanthropist (opened kids summer camps), famously devoted to his wife/family.
Guy lived the life of 10 lesser men
#30Joan of Arc. Her prediction turned out to be correct in the end.
#31Socrates. The dude had enough control of his body to prevent him from shivering in the cold through sheer willpower. He waged psychological warfare on the entire city-state, one person at a time, until enough people were humiliated enough to call for his death. Then he [unalived] himself to prove a point (He was not poisoned, he drank the poison willingly when he could have just left the room).
#32Bhutan's founder, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Ran from Tibet at the age of 22 because he was fighting the Tibetan leader at the time, the Tsang Desi. Built a country in the south and successfully fought off 4 big invasion attempts. Two of those were against the Mongol Emperor, who sent him a bag of rice with a note: "Ghuri Khan has more men in his army than there are grains in this bag, surrender." Zhabdrung's country was half of what Bhutan is right now (2018 population is 730,000). But he responded by grinding the rice into flour and sending it back saying, "come, my deities are ready if you are." They came and were defeated. Bhutan still celebrates the final victory (270th one this year)
#33Lauri Tourni Fought for the Finnish during the winter war and fought in the continuation war as a backline commando winning the mannerheim cross. He then fought for the SS and won an iron cross. He escaped a British POW camp and went back to Finland. Due to the german involvement he was arrested but escaped, and pardoned in 1948. He illegally came to america years later joined the US army and served in special forces during the vietnam war.
#34The Finnish soldier dude that did meth and ate pine buds and a bird
Also, that giant of a dude who got f**ked by an avalanche and used a piece of his frozen s**t to dig himself out.
#35John Muir once chased a bear in order to ‘observe its gait’ among many other crazy things including climbing a frozen waterfall.OH and he was blind for a spell in his younger years. That guy is the definition of badass.
#36Simo Häyhä, known as the White Death. Hero of the Finland-Russia Winter War, and the single greatest sniper to ever live. With a confirmed kill count of 300, but likely number probably over 1000. He got his jaw shot off, had it fixed and still lived to the age of 94.
He used Iron sights so people couldn't see the glare of a lens. Put snow in his mouth so his breath didn't reveal his position. The dude systematically hunted the soviets. Silent, deadly. There's a reason he is the White Death.
#37The Knights Hospitaller at The Great Siege of Malta. -of particular note:
"The number of casualties is in as much dispute as the number of invaders. Balbi gives 35,000 Turkish deaths, which seems implausible, Bosio 30,000 casualties (including sailors). Several other sources give about 25,000. The knights lost a third of their number, and Malta lost a third of its inhabitants. Birgu and Senglea were essentially leveled. Still, 9,000 defenders had managed to withstand a siege of more than four months in the hot summer, despite enduring a bombardment of some 130,000 cannonballs."
Consider that's about 14 cannonballs per defender.
During the battle of Cape St. Vincent, he defied orders and broke formation to prevent the Spanish from gaining an advantage. While engaging the Spanish ships, he led a boarding party and captured a ship. While still on the captured ship, he boarded another Spaniard and captured them as well. This maneuver would later be called "Nelson's patent bridge for boarding enemy vessels."
During the Battle of the Nile, he caught the French completely off guard by launching a night attack on the French anchored fleet. This was a risky as hell maneuver because he had little information about the shallow spots in the bay, and had to maneuver in the darkness. He crippled the French fleet without losing a single ship. Nelson was wounded when a piece of damaged rigging smacked him on the head damn near scalped him.
In Copenhagen, he led the first wave against the Danish ships. His superior officer saw that some of his ships ran aground and were in a bit of trouble, so he signalled to Nelson to withdraw. Although this is probably apocryphal, Nelson raised his telescope to his blind eye and said, "I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal!" He continued the attack and defeated the Danish fleet.
At Trafalgar, he ordered his fleet to be split into two and sailed them straight into the French and Spanish line. He and his second in command were at the head of each column and race another to get to the enemy line. The wind was light that day, so Nelson's ship was pounded by enemy fire for several minutes because he was able to break the line and fire back. Nelson always wore his full dress uniform and refused to take cover. Unfortunately for him, he was shot by a sniper and [passed away]. The British beat a numerically strong French and Spanish fleet without losing a single ship. While dying, he learned that he won the battle and said, "Thank god I have done my duty!"
Not bad for a man with one eye and one arm.
#39Hirō Onoda, was a japanese soldier in WW2 who didn't believe Japan would ever have surrendered to the allies. So he spent about 30 years on an island in the pacific where he had been instructed to wage guerilla warfare on the inhabitants during the war. It was only in 1974 when his former commanding officer was summoned to officially relieve him of his duty. There were search parties and everything, at times instructed to shoot to [take out] because he was still attacking local farmers. He survived all of them without ever being found and lived on his own in the jungle for most of the time after his group was either [unalived] or captured
(The "Old man river" song guy)
Paul Robeson was son to a minister that ranaway from slavery and his mom [passed away] in a fire at 6 yrs old
MPR started giving sermons for the church when his dad was away on business at 14 years old
In high school he was in theater, chorus, lettered in 4 sports, valedictorian, and won a scholarship to Rutgers University
At Rutgers he lettered in football, track, baseball, basketball, debate, and glee club; cap and skull society member; valedictorian; won oratory awards 4 yrs straight; saved a student who fell over a canal bridge; all while taking care of his dying father on weekends
Went to Columbia Law school playing for the NFL on weekends for like $500 a game
Met a Claire Huxtable type in summer school who studied medicine and locked that [stuff] down. You know they had a son
Practiced law until some portly b*** acted like she was too good to listen to a Black supervisor. MPR bounced, becoming an international movie star instead. We're talking singing in foreign languages and everything
Got some Dame of England punani among others
Got W.E.B. Dubois endorsement
Spoke Swahili, Latin, and several other languages
Flipped the script on the President when he was invited to the White House
Spoke out for African American rights 20 years before the civil rights movement
On the CIA, FBI, & MI5's watchlist
Image credits: OohYeahOrADragon
#41Reposting a comment I had on a similar thread a while back:
"How has no one said Giles Corey yet?
He was accused of witchcraft along with his wife Martha Corey during the Salem Witch Trials. After being arrested, Corey refused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. He was subjected to execution by pressing in an effort to force him to plead — the only example of such a sanction in American history — but instead [passed away] after two days of torture.
As a result of his refusal to plead, on September 17, Sheriff George Corwin led Corey to a pit in the open field beside the jail and in accordance with the above process, before the Court and witnesses, stripped Giles of his clothing, laid him on the ground in the pit, and placed boards on his chest. Six men then lifted heavy stones, placing them one by one, on his stomach and chest. Giles Corey did not cry out, let alone make a plea.
After two days, Giles was asked three times to plead innocent or guilty to witchcraft. Each time he replied, "More weight."
Image credits: 7Dsports25
#42The clear answer is Julia Child.
This superwoman was a WWII spy, invented shark repellent, singlehandedly brought French cuisine to America, was over 6 feet tall, was a bestselling author, was a champion woman’s basketball player, regularly went small game hunting, was known as an avid prankster, the recipient of multiple Emmys, the French Legion of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and honorary doctorates from several universities including Harvard, was a dedicated wife, and is beloved worldwide to this day.
Honestly, her Wikipedia page is an absolute roller coaster ride if anyone is interested.
Image credits: LancasterWiddershins
#43Chinese pirate queen Ching Shih
Led a huge pirate fleet of up to 400 ships and basically robbed and murdered whatever and whoever the [hell] she wanted. Her word was law if you were on her crew any disobedience got you beheaded on the spot.
She kicked the d**ks off of the Chinese navy, she whooped Bristish and Portugese bounty hunters. Terrorized villages [taking out] the men and selling the women and children into slavery when their ransoms weren't paid.
When she finally started loosing fights to a technologically superior Portugese Navy she cashed out. Took her loyal bloodthirsty pirate army to the Chinese government and suggested that they pardon her and her crew of all crimes and not try to confiscate any of their loot or they were gonna do one more big bloody crime starting right here.
She ran a brothel/gambling house into her old age and lived in luxury and power.
Image credits: Whatawaist
#44Joe Medicine Crow. The last legit Native American to earn the War Chief Title. In World War II he was a scout and wore traditional Crow Nation war paint and feathers. To become a war chief he had to touch an enemy without [unaliving] him, take an enemy's weapon, lead a successful war party, and steal an enemy's horse. He stole over 50 horses from the SS and earned a Bronze Star.
Medicine Crow [passed away] at 102 years old. He was born with Woodrow Wilson in office and met Barack Obama before he [passed away].
Image credits: MattHoppe1
#45I always felt Jonas Salk was pretty bad-ass. The dude created the first successful polio vaccine and gave away the cure for free.
Image credits: Supernormal92
He was a military doctor during WW1, a completely committed amazing pedagogue and the headmaster of a Jewish children’s home during WW2 in the Warsaw Ghetto.
He was given several chances to flee to Palestine. Instead electing to stay with the children.
Eventually he accompanied them all the way into the gas chamber, to make sure they didn’t have to die alone and scared.
It’s one level of bad-a**ery to [take out] for your cause.
It’s a whole different level of bad-assery to walk towards certain death for several years, endure hardship and starvation. Not for some grand cause. Not even to trade your life for someone elses.
But only because you feel so much love towards your fellow man, to think it’s your duty to make sure they won’t have to die alone.
Image credits: PetrifiedGoose
#47Evariste Galois. I am just copying things from this website....
Most people don't tend to think of mathematicians as being badass. Popular convention - so vigorously and boisterously propagated by the media - sees them as hapless dorks. Thick glasses, messy hair and awkward social skills, the world sees the prototypical mathematician as a portrait in pitiful meekness.
Let's start with Evariste Galois.
Galois was born in 1811 in a France that was enjoying a roller coaster ride through history with Napoleon in charge. Young, impish Evariste showed exceptional mathematical skills. He started reading original research papers by luminaries at age 15.
Like the bright minds of his era (and ours too, I suppose) he tried getting into the French ivies.His efforts were rebuffed multiple times due to the following reasons:
a) He failed the non-math portions of his entrance tests.
b) He haughtily refused to offer proofs of his answers to his examiners during orals.
c) He threw a blackboard eraser at an examiner out of sheer exasperation at the latter's stupidity.
He finagled his way into some other university and started publishing papers, his first one at the age of 17 (what were you doing at 17, btw?). When Galois was 19, France rose in revolt against their weak king Charles X. Our young math hero was known for his bombastic approach to life, math and everything else, and got himself in a lot of trouble by writing vitriolic letters against powerful people. He was unceremoniously kicked out of school for this bit of mischief making. He registered for the national guard because, and I quote, "If a carcass is needed to stir up the people, I will donate mine".
He was soon thrown in jail on bogus charges of "wearing a uniform". Six months later he got out, his spirit not bent an iota. He then proceeded to fall in love with a young woman, who did not share the same feelings as him. Seems like nothing worked out for him in life. Anyway, angered and disappointed he picked fights with political opponents and got himself challenged to a duel. Quite an inconvenience for a fellow who was far more intimate with integrals, continued fractions and number theory than guns, bullets and blood.
Presciently recognizing his imminent death, he spent the night before the duel writing hasty letters to other mathematicians asking them to safeguard his work. He scribbled hasty notes in margins of his manuscripts, leaving mathematicians of posterity with much valuable insight into such arcana as finite fields, root finding and a theory that would later bear his name.
Sure enough, he got shot the next day at the duel. Although he was rushed to the hospital, he [passed away] soon after. His last words to his brother Alfred were, "I need all my courage to die at twenty."
#48Edward Jenner, the man who cured small pox, along side a young boy named James Phipps and a milk maid named Sarah Nelmes.
#49Frank "Pistol Pete" Eaton
His father was murdered in cold blood on his front porch as he watched at 8 years old. He took it upon himself to hunt those men down, by becoming very adept with a pistol.
He lived near Stillwater, Oklahoma and became the living mascot to Oklahoma State University. Now our current mascot is based on him.
#50James Blunt- guy was in Kosovo and worked ahead of.the front lines, led a 30k column into an airfield where he was ordered to attack the Russian troops stationed there, but refused. He also brought along his guitar to perform to fellow troops. Then became a member of the prestigious queen's guard. And became the tank corps ski champion at the time. Not to mention all the money he's raised for service charities since leaving the army.
#51Eugene Debs, notorious union organizer, original founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and five time presidential candidate.
Debs is most famous for his involvement in the Pullman Strike of 1894, during which 80,000 industrial rail workers stopped working in response to a 28% wage cut. Debs became the figurehead of the strike, which garnered national attention since Pullman cars were used to transport US mail. The New York Times published an article calling Debs an ‘enemy of the human race’, the army was sent in where they [took out] over 30 strikers, and Debs was sent to federal prison.
During his time in jail, Debs received letters from labor organizers around the country who supported his cause. He subsequently became an advocate for socialism in America after seeing first-hand what unfettered capitalism will do to maintain itself. When he was released he founded the Social Democratic Party of America and ultimately ran for president, famously garnering almost a million votes in 1912 and again in 1920 (more than Teddy Roosevelt received that year).
When he ran in 1920, he did it from a federal prison cell. When he had been sentenced two years prior for sedition, he famously said to the judge:
‘Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.’
#52Julie d'Aubigny was a bisexual French woman in the 1700’s who grew up close to nobility. Her dads boss took her as a mistress, and married her to some old guy to keep up appearances. She ended up being taught the art of dueling, ditching her husband and going for her fencing master. Mr Fencing Master ended up [taking out] someone in an illegal duel, so he went on the run and Julie went with him. During this time she reinvented herself into a traveling singer and duelist, met a cute girl, and ditched her fencing master for her. Girls parents go salty and threw their daughter in a convent and here’s where things get awesome. To save her beloved, she took the holy orders and entered the convent, took the body of a recently [unalive] nun, put it in her lovers room, lit the room on fire, and and escaped with her beloved. Months later her now ex girlfriend went home, surprising her family by being alive, and the church sentenced Julie to burn at the stake, however she was still very much on the run. So what’d she do? Write a letter to her former lover, and her dads boss, asking him to get her a spot in the Paris opera. He took it to the king, who was delighted to have Julie join the opera, and they became fast friends. His brother, The Duke of New Orleans, was gay, and because he didn’t want his brother to be bullied, he said “F the church” and let gay people do what they wanted. That’s why Julie thrived. She eventually got a spot in the opera house, sleeping with many of her costars regardless of gender. She ended up defeating three men in illegal duels at a royal party over a woman she kissed, and before the king could convict her, she ran off to Germany and had an affair with a prince; who was so scared of Julie after he saw her duel, that he asked her to stay away from him! After a year, she went back to France, the king not mad at her anymore, and there she acted, and fell in love with a woman. After her beloved [passed away] however, she actually entered a convent after retiring from the opera and ended up dying soon after in her 30’s. My theory is that she [passed away] of a broken heart, because she seemed to love her girlfriend more than anything else in the world.
#53Sylvia Earle. She’s still alive and advocating for marine conservation.
In the 1970s, she wanted to be part of a diving crew that was going to live in a habitat on the ocean floor for the better part of a month to study marine life, but the people in charge of the mission said it would be imprudent for the habitat to be co-ed. Earle argued that they should let her lead an all-female mission, and they did.
Check out the Tektite II mission and it’s images and imagine being stuck underwater in those close quarters for nearly a month. Incredible!
#54Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (French general and father of the writer) - check out The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
Andrew Vachss - yes, he writes great books, but also - "...He worked in Biafra, entering the war zone just before the fall of the country. There he worked to find a land route to bring donated food and medical supplies across the border after the seaports were blocked and Red Cross airlifts banned by the Nigerian government; however, all attempts ultimately failed, resulting in rampant starvation.
After he returned and recovered from his injuries, including malaria and malnutrition, Vachss studied community organizing in 1970 under Saul Alinsky. He worked as a labor organizer and ran a self-help center for urban migrants in Chicago. He then managed a re-entry program for ex-convicts in Massachusetts, and finally directed a maximum-security prison for violent juvenile offenders. ..."
#55Hedy Lamarr. She became a Hollywood movie star, then went on to pioneer technology used in bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
#56Daniel Inouye, the late Senator from Hawaii.
He's one of the most decorated officers of all time.
I’ve never heard of someone who cared about so little
#58Joseph Broz Tito. Industrialised Yugoslavia, founded non aligned movenment and told Joseph Stalin "stop sending assistants to [unalive] me. We have five failed assassins. The next one of yours we find ill send one of ours, and we'll only need one"
Alomg with that survived the russian revolution war, snuck back to yugoslavia on frieght train, fought the monarchy, fought nazis and then made yugoslavia the most prosperous nation in the eastren bloc.