Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Miep Gies, who saved Anne Frank's diary during World War II, died Sunday at the age of 100. Gies was the last living link to the Frank family. She spent her last six decades traveling and talking about her experience during World War II, ensuring that those who read Frank's diary knew that it was genuine and that the Holocaust was real.

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Anne Frank was 15 and a prisoner in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she died of typhus in 1945. Her diary, chronicling the two years she hid with her family and another Jewish family from the Nazis, provides an intimate look into the life of an adolescent growing up in hiding and living in fear.

After the war, Gies returned the diary to Anne's father, the only family member to survive. He published the diary a few years later.

"There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention," wrote Gies in the prologue of her memoirs, "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family."

"I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time."

Monday, Egypt presented evidence from recently discovered tombs of pyramid workers who had been buried with bread and beer. This discovery reinforces the theory that the workers were not slaves, but free. Though the Hollywood legend is that slaves built the pyramids, Dieter Wildung, a former director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, believes the workers toiled "out of loyalty to the pharaohs."

The Great Pyramids, more than 4,000 years old, are estimated to have taken 20,000 to 30,000 workers more than 80 years to build. The largest pyramid reaches to a height of 481 feet and is composed of roughly 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing 2.5 to 15 tons.

Possibly the workers understood that their role in building the pyramids would lead to long-term glory for the pharaohs and Egypt. They were part of something bigger than themselves. Thousands of individual workers, over decades, did what they were asked, what they believed was necessary at the time.

What do these two seemingly disparate stories have in common? Big goals, team formation, focus, hard work and perseverance: The same five characteristics identified by Amanda Ripley in her article "What Makes a Great Teacher?" (The Atlantic, January/February 2010)

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.