11 Historical Tidbits That Made Us A Little Teary Eyed

List Rules
Vote up the the historical events that make you reach for your hanky.

History is layered with tragedies and triumphs, but some stories from history stand out as especially emotional. The ones that can't help but bring a tear to our eye.

These are the stories that raise the stakes of sacrifice to nearly melodramatic levels, and offer heart wrenching twists that we would never believe possible if we saw them in a Hollywood movie. These are the stories of children, pets, enemies that became friends, overcoming adversity, and facing the worst of days. These are the stories in which humanity shines through the events of history, and that is why we shed our tears. Vote up the ones that are truly touching.


  • A Talkative Parrot Had Heartbreaking Last Words
    Photo: L.Miguel Bugallo Sánchez / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
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    2,383 VOTES

    A Talkative Parrot Had Heartbreaking Last Words

    Dr. Irene Pepperberg bought Alex, an African gray parrot, from a pet store in 1977, and then worked with him to challenge what we know about animal language skills. Rather than simply mimicking sounds, Dr. Pepperberg's research suggested Alex knew over 100 words in English and could put them into categories. He could also recognizes shapes and colors.

    Alex passed away at the age of 31 in 2007. His last words to Dr. Pepperberg were the same words he always said when she left for the evening: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.” 

    2,383 votes
  • Sir Nicholas Winton Rescued 669 Children From The Holocaust
    Photo: Li-sung / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    A London stockbroker during WWII, Sir Nicholas Winton arranged an underground network to secretly smuggle 669 children out of Prague and into the care of foster families waiting for them in Britain. The operation was kept so clandestine that even his family was unaware of its existence until his wife found a scrapbook record of the events in their attic in 1988.

    Sir Winton was reunited with many of the adult children he had saved on an emotional episode of BBC’s That’s Life.

    1,979 votes
  • Teddy Roosevelt Made A Diary Entry On The Day Both His Wife And Mother Died Only Hours Apart 
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    1,716 VOTES

    Teddy Roosevelt Made A Diary Entry On The Day Both His Wife And Mother Died Only Hours Apart 

    On February 14, 1884, future US President Teddy Roosevelt lost both his mother, Mittie and his wife of four years, Alice Lee. Only two days earlier, Alice Lee had given birth to their daughter.

    Roosevelt, usually a boisterous, larger-than-life figure, took to his diary that day and made the following entry: A large "X" followed by "The light has gone out of my life."

    1,716 votes
  • Napoleon Was Profoundly Moved By The Sight Of A Dog On The Battlefield Next To His Fallen Master
    Photo: Charles de Steuben / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    During his final days of exile, Napoleon reflected on his life and one particular incident during his Italian campaign where he came upon the remains of a soldier being nuzzled by his concerned pet dog. Napoleon wrote

    Perhaps it was the spirit of the time and the place that affected me. But I assure you no occurrence of any of my other battlefields impressed me so keenly. I halted on my tour to gaze on the spectacle, and to reflect on its meaning.

    This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog.... I had looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands.

    Yet, here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog. I am certain that at that instant I felt more ready than at any other time to show mercy toward a suppliant foe-man. I could understand just then the tinge of mercy which led Achilles to yield the corpse of his enemy, Hector, to the weeping Priam.

    1,234 votes
  • A German Fighter Pilot Escorted A Helpless US Bomber To Safety, Then Befriended Him
    Photo: Valor Studios / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    1,430 VOTES

    A German Fighter Pilot Escorted A Helpless US Bomber To Safety, Then Befriended Him

    On December 20, 1943, German fighter pilot Franz Stigler saw that 2nd Lt Charles "Charlie" Brown's B-17 Flying Fortress was severely damaged from a fire fight. Rather than taking the opportunity to shoot down the crippled bomber, Stigler showed him mercy and escorted it over and past German-occupied territory until ensuring it landed safely.

    Later, Stigler said he had remembered the words of one of his commanding officers during his time fighting in North Africa: "If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute, I will shoot you myself."

    Stigler later commented, "To me, it was just like they were in a parachute. I saw them and I couldn't shoot them down." The men reunited years after the war and remained close friends.

    1,430 votes
  • Sacagawea was a member of the Shoshone tribe and had been kidnapped by the Hidatsa when she was 12. She was sold into a non-consensual marriage to a Quebecois fur trapper, and was pregnant when she was chosen to be an interpreter and guide to Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their exploration of the western United States.

    Eventually in their journey, they met a group of Shoshones. Sacagawea stared at their chief for a moment until finally she cried and they met in an embrace. It was her brother, Cameahwait, whom she had not seen since her abduction.

    1,134 votes