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Life in a Jar: The Jar is Open

(An Update from Bob Dotson, NBC News National Correspondent)History does not float back into the past.  It's never past.  Every day the things people did long ago gather invisibly around us. The good.  And the bad.  , ">"Life in a Jar" last week's American Story with Bob Dotson, introduced you to Irena Sendler, a 97-year-old woman credited with saving 2,500 Jews during the World War Two Holoca

(An Update from Bob Dotson, NBC News National Correspondent)

History does not float back into the past.  It's never past.  Every day the things people did long ago gather invisibly around us. The good.  And the bad.

 , ">"Life in a Jar" last week's American Story with Bob Dotson, introduced you to Irena Sendler, a 97-year-old woman credited with saving 2,500 Jews during the World War Two Holocaust.  Today she was honored at a ceremony in Warsaw, during which Poland's president said she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.  Mrs. Sendler, who lives in a nursing home, was too frail to attend the special session in which members of the Senate unanimously approved a resolution honoring her and the Polish underground for Assisting Jews.  The group's members, mostly Roman Catholics, risked their own lives to save Jews from the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland.  Sendler was cited for organizing the "rescue of the most defenseless victims of the Nazi ideology - the Jewish children."

President Lech Kacyzinski said in an address to senators that Sendler is a "great hero who can be justly named for the Nobel Peace Prize."

 Sendler led about 20 helpers who smuggled Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto to safety between 1940 and 1943, placing them in Polish families, convents or orphanages.

Tortured by Nazis

 She wrote the children's names on slips of paper and buried them in jars in a neighbor's yard as a record that could help locate their parents after the war. The Nazis arrested her in 1943, but she refused - despite repeated torture - to reveal their names.

 Anyone caught helping Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland risked being summarily shot, along with family members.

 "I think she's a great lady, very courageous, and I think she's a model for the whole international community," Israeli Ambassador David Peleg said after the ceremony. "I think that her courage is a very special one."

 Why is this an American story?  It was not widely known until a group of small town Kansas teenagers got her to tell it.  They live in a town without a Jewish family for miles and miles. 

 "Why would you care?" she asked them.

 "This is not about race or religion or country," they told her.  "You showed us that Good can triumph over Evil." 

 That is history that knows no boundaries.