I was standing in the take-out line at the Rutherford Grill in California's beautiful Napa Valley when the writing on the back of a man's t-shirt caught my attention.
The t-shirt read, "Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Stand brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Protect the helpless and do no wrong - that is your oath."
I tapped the man on the shoulder and asked where the quote had come from.
"Oh, it's the vow of the Knights Templar," he replied.
Okay, Knights Templar, I thought. Not really clear on them. When I got home I did a little research. The Knights Templar were founded in 1129 with the idea of protecting pilgrims on the way to the Holy Land. They were attacked by King Phillip IV of France in 1307, and officially disbanded by Pope Clement in 1312, or roughly 702 years before I found myself standing in that restaurant.
Now I don't want to talk about whether the Knights Templar were a positive or negative force in history, but to pose a more elemental question. Why is it that more than 700 years after they were disbanded we still quote their oath?
I think it's because in any age we recognize courage. And it made me wonder who the people are in this age whose courage I admire. It didn't take me long to come up with an answer. In fact, I know a good many of them. They are the ones writing books and making films to help our community and those helpless children who all too often cannot speak for themselves.
I must start with David Kirby and his wonderful book, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy, released in 2005.
Next are Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill for their book, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Man-Made Epidemic, and the work they do on a daily basis with this web-site.
I would be remiss if I didn't include Kim Stagliano's book, All I Can Handle - I'm No Mother Theresa [A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism].
In 2010 Dr. Andrew Wakefield published his book, Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines - The Truth Behind a Tragedy, which detailed the campaign of persecution against him and his work.
An excellent book in all ways was Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children, by Louise Kuo Habakus and Mary Holland, released in 2012.
There was the wonderful movie in 2013, The Greater Good by Leslie Manookian and Kendall Nelson.
Our own Lou Conte wrote a great thriller, The Autism War, which is a thinly veiled story which all of us know too well.
There is Science for Sale by Dr. David Lewis, a former government scientist who has published in both Nature and Science as he delves into the Andrew Wakefield case.
I have to commend Robert Kennedy, Jr., Martha Herbert, and Mark Hyman for their book, Thimerosal - Let the Science Speak: The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury-A Known Neurotoxin from Vaccines, published in August of 2014.
Another documentary which is coming up on release in August of 2014 is Bought: The Hidden Story Behind Vaccines, Big Pharma, and Your Food by Jeff Hayes and Bobby Sheehan.
Then there's Wayne Rohde's book on a great topic, The Vaccine Court: The Dark Side of America's Vaccine Injury Program, being released in September 2014.
Another one of our own, Age of Autism's media editor, Anne Dachel has a book coming out in October of 2014, The Big Autism Cover-up: How and Why the Media is Lying to the American Public.
When I was reviewing this list of courageous people it struck me that the ideals of truth, honor, and selfless sacrifice are still very much alive. You could call them today's Knights Templar, or for a more contemporary reference, our own Guardians of the Galaxy.
I hope you will support their efforts.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and author of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases, being published on September 9, 2014. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can pre-order the book HERE.