Humility is not false-modesty. Rather, it is the quality of servant leaders who put the good of other people before their own interests.  

What is Humility?

The inner strength to put others before ourselves.

Where does the word come from?

Word etymology:  From the early 14c., “quality of being humble,” from Old French umelite “humility, modesty, sweetness” (Modern French humilité), from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) “lowness, small stature; insignificance; baseness, littleness of mind,” in Church Latin “meekness,” from humilis “lowly, humble,” literally “on the ground,” from humus “earth,” from PIE root dhghem- “earth.”

Humility in Action: Santiago Erevia

In 1969 Sgt. Santiago Erevia distinguished himself during the Vietnam War by saving his comrades, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he received the the Medal of Honor for his service. In the 45 years between his act of heroism and receiving recognition, Erevia lived a quiet life in San Antonio, Texas, working for the U.S. Postal Service.

Erevia’s company was on a search and destroy mission near Tam Ky City when they came under fire. With multiple wounded, he and his friend Patrick Deihl were asked to remain behind to assist the injured while the rest of the platoon continued on. They were administering first aid when they came under heavy fire.

Deihl did not survive the initial assault. The survival of the wounded men now depended entirely on Erevia. Crawling from one wounded man to the other, Erevia gathered weapons and ammunition. Knowing he would not likely survive, he decided it was more important to give the wounded a chance at survival.

Armed with two M-16 rifles and several hand grenades, he single-handedly destroyed four enemy bunkers. With the threat eliminated, Erevia returned to treating the injuries of the wounded in his care. His actions directly contributed to saving the lives of a half-dozen men.

Not inclined to speak of his experience, Erevia used the attention he received to pay tribute to Deihl, his companion who did not survive that day. It was in his honor and for the other brave men who did not survive that Erevia received the Medal of Honor.

Erevia died in 2014, two years after receiving the Medal of Honor.

Discussion Questions

  • Erevia knew he would likely die when he decided to take out the enemy bunkers. Was he just doing his duty as a soldier or was he showing true courage and a willingness to sacrifice his own life for others?
  • Erevia knew he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1969. Not receiving it, he moved on with his life. Why is it important to not focus on awards and recognition? Can they be detrimental?
  • It took 45 years, but eventually Erevia was publicly recognized for his heroism. What is the benefit of recognizing heroic people? Is it because it is owed to them? Does being reminded of heroes benefit a community?
  • How is humility different from modesty?
  • How is humility connected to the other character traits such as charity and integrity? How is it different?

Resources


  1. Click to read about Wisdom, the character trait of September.
  2. Click to read about Justice, the character trait of October.
  3. Click to read about Endurance, the character trait of November.
  4. Click to read about Self-Control, the character trait of December.
  5. Click to read about Love, the character trait of January.
  6. Click to read about Integrity, the character trait of February.
  7. Click to read about Determination, the character trait of March.
  8. Click to read about Gratefulness, character trait of April

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