December 11, 2014 6:12 AM EST

Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, says the proverb, but rather the hero’s heart.

Maybe this is true in any battle; it is surely true of a war that is waged with bleach and a prayer.

For decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure….Read the full story here.

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TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

Runner-Up: Ferguson Protesters, The Activists

Runner-Up: Vladimir Putin, The Imperialist

Runner-Up: Massoud Barzani, The Opportunist

Runner-Up: Jack Ma, The Capitalist

This appears in the December 22, 2014 issue of TIME.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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