We have been talking about superheroes since the beginning of the year. Not the mask- and cape-wearing ones like Superman, but those whose clothing doesn’t mark them out in a crowd. Everyday superheroes are distinguished by their deeds. They are doctors, teachers, museum curators, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists. They do their jobs with integrity and conscientiousness and do not stop at obstacles. They help others and support their communities.
Superheroes preserve their integrity even, and especially, when they attain recognition or a high position in their area. This is a key characteristic of superheroes: they are immune to the temptations of power. Quoting John Adams, the second president and one of the founding fathers of the United States, ABF President Nancy Schiller reminded us:
“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
Although Adams wrote these words at a very different time in history, his point is just as relevant today—a time when power has become a means of gaining personal benefits or promoting business interests.
In January, we celebrated everyday Bulgarian superheroes, the people who support our communities and make our country more successful. On July 4, US Independence Day, we also honored their American counterparts, those who have been working for Bulgaria’s prosperity for years: the Board of Directors of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, US Embassy staff, ABF’s Fulbright Commission partners, and all Americans residing in Bulgaria and working side by side with Bulgarians to make the country a better place for all.
On July 4, we also said goodbye to two superheroes who did a great deal for Bulgaria over the last few years, whether through their active support for Bulgarian artists, efforts to preserve Bulgaria’s cultural and historical heritage, and support for educational institutions and civic organizations nationwide. US Ambassador Eric Rubin and his wife, Nicole Simmons, went back home, but their Bulgarian friends won’t forget their modesty, integrity, hard work, and especially their love for Bulgaria.
Because Superman is an American just like Eric and Nicole—and because, as Nancy Schiller said, “it’s important to remember why we’re here”—ABF Executive Director Desislava Taliokova reminded us why Superman’s story resonates so deeply to this day:
“Superman was the most powerful man on Earth. He could have ruled the world; he could have amassed huge wealth. Instead, he used his power to defend the weak and protect our planet. When he was not doing that, he lived the life of a good-mannered everyman.
We all know the famous saying that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Superman, however, defied that logic and is an example that you can have all the power in the world and still live a life of humility and generosity. He shows us that the greatest power is integrity and incorruptibility.
You, Eric and Nicole, do not have absolute power, but with your work in the last three and a half years, you’ve shown us that you have absolute commitment to your country, America, and to ours, Bulgaria. Thank you!”
As a sign of appreciation and gratitude, the ABF team presented Eric and Nicole with a painting of one of their favorite places in the country, the Belogradchik Rocks and Fortress, by Bulgarian artist and ABF office manager Zhenya Yordanova.
More than 200 people joined Ambassador Rubin, Nicole Simmons, and the ABF team at Muzeiko Science Center to celebrate the 243rd anniversary of US independence on July 4.
Check out more photos from ABF’s Fourth of July SuperParty.
Photos by Yuliyan Hristov