March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of women across the world and draw attention to the women who have fought for equal rights. These amazing women come from all walks of life; scientists, writers, athletes, and activists have all helped shape the modern world.
Let’s also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, risking their own lives to help others. When I think of “sacrifices,” many women come to mind. I am not talking about the women that we learn about in our history books — famous names known all over the world. I am talking about the women who have changed the lives of so many, yet only a handful of people know their name. One woman in particular stands out for me, my grandmother Angelina Rook. She was born Sept. 30, 1916, in Rotterdam, Holland. By 1940, when the Nazis were at the height of power, Angelina and Johan Huvers were married with a young daughter and living in Germany. She soon set her mind to defying the Germans. The young couple conscripted themselves into the local underground resistance movement, helping smuggle French prisoners of war across the border. Later, they returned home to Rotterdam, where their resistance continued, turning their basement into a hiding place for men ordered to Germany to aid the war effort as laborers. Angelina silently delivered food and necessities and signaled the approach of German troops by turning on a light in the basement.
One day she returned home to find the house destroyed and the men gone — including her husband. The Germans had received a tip that there might be “under-divers” there. When the Nazis showed up Angelina’s two-year-old daughter innocently took the Nazis to the closet that led to the basement. Days later, Angelina found her husband lying dead in the street. That young daughter is still with us today.
Angelina was very much the woman next door, but she was also a woman with extraordinary courage who rose to the occasion when she had to. Her story is intense; it is a story of strength and courage. Women like Angelina are not well known, because they made a difference quietly. Their stories bring us hope and remind us that women are strong and make a difference.
I encourage you to read books about women like Angelina. Read their stories, share their stories and celebrate the remarkable women we have had the honor of knowing and/or learning about.
The Lincoln County Library System celebrates Women’s History Month. Stop in and check out material about great women.