Martyrdom, though usually used to define someone who dies in the name of their religion, should not be connected exclusively with faith. The phenomenon of martyrdom is far from new; the ancestral expression “pro patria mori” – to die for one’s homeland — described the most honorable way for a citizen of Ancient Greece and Rome to die.
There have been many popular and famous martyrs throughout history, but there are many more that have been ignored by history, and it’s time they got their due as well.
10. Nathan Hale
His final words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” are probably more famous than he is. Nathan Hale is one of the greatest American heroes and martyrs in history, but unfortunately he is not very well-known, even in the US. During the battle of Long Island, Nathan volunteered to go behind the British lines, and report back on the movements of the British troop, their tactics and other valuable information. Unfortunately for Hale, he was caught and executed, as was the normal punishment during these wars. This gave him the less-than-desirable distinction of being the first-ever American spy to be executed. Today, there are statues standing in his honor at Yale University, and at the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters.