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In 1940 the Battle of Britain took place in the skies over England. Day after day hundreds of German bombers delivered to the targets below a cargo of death and destruction. The only thing stopping the certain defeat of the allies in western Europe was the Royal Air Force, whose pilots rose to fight the German bombers and their escorts every time. And although their cause seemed futile and more than half of their fighters would be shot down, the RAF pilots never gave up.

Winston Churchhill said of them "Never in the history of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few." Paul Brand speculates "I doubt whether a more adulated group of young men has ever lived. They were the cream of England, the brightest, the healthiest, the most confident and dedicated, and often the handsomest men in the entire country."

But for many of the pilots who survived, they paid the price with their appearance. A design flaw in the Hurricane fighters they piloted left them vulnerable to explosions that would severely injure them if they didn't eject immediately. Many were left to endure numerous surgeries to reconstruct their faces.

Each fell into one of two groups. Those whose wives and girlfriends couldn't accept the new faces. They either slipped away or filed for divorce. But in the 2nd group the wives and girlfriends stuck by them. Psychologists charted the progress of the two groups.

The first group tended to stay indoors, rarely ventured outside except perhaps at night. They looked for some kind of work to do at home.

But those whose wives and girlfriends stuck by them --- they went on to great successes. Many became executives, professionals and leaders of their communities. They remained - the elite of England.

They looked into mirrors that told them that. They learned to look into the mirror that gave them a true reflection of who they were that wasn’t based on outward appearance. The mirror of course, was the people who loved them and accepted them in spite of their appearance. They could have been discouraged by the reactions of people on the street or the taunts and laughter of children, but they learned to look into the mirror. And see -- this is who I am. I am not defined by the thickness of the skin on my face. I am the elite of England.

(Paul Brand, In His Image)

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