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We live in an era that’s hungry for heroes — real ones, not those manufactured by the publicity machine.

For all our divisions, Americans, happily, still recognize bonafide heroism. And we’re guessing few would disagree with the individuals honored by The Detroit News as the 2017 Michiganians of the Year.

Who wouldn’t salute the ACLU executive director who, on seeing something ominous in Flint, put a top-notch investigative reporter on the case who exposed the catastrophe in the city’s drinking water?

Likewise, it’s hard to argue with a guy who never knew his own father, and created a program on his own time to help boys in the same predicament — or the mother of an autistic son who established a safe play space for kids with special needs from all across the metro area.

We also tip our hat to two representatives in Congress, on different sides of the aisle, who’ve pushed bipartisan solutions to national problems even when that meant bucking their own parties.

And we’re betting that children all across the country would stand up and applaud the businessman whose donation kick-started the creation of the Detroit Zoo’s Polk Penguin Conservation Center, a $30 million hit that’s already drawn a million visitors in its first six months.

The manifold accomplishments of these and other singular individuals deeply impressed us. We’re betting they’ll dazzle you, too.

They join a long list of distinguished individuals that The Detroit News has honored each year since 1978.

They are the 2017 Michiganians of the Year. Click on their names to learn more about their work.

Allie Greenleaf Maldonado

Debbie Dingell

Fred Upton

Kary L. Moss

Mark Wallace

Matthew Simoncini

Odis Bellinger

Shell Jones

Stephen R. Polk

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