O brave new world
That has such people in’t!
The Tempest V:1
This idea of heroism is all around us, there are those who work tirelessly to raise a family, there are true teachers who see past the syllabus of Socialist propaganda handed them and teach beyond the norm to expose young minds to the virtue of intellectual honesty, there are firemen who put their safety on the line to help those in trouble, heroism takes place around us every day and we have become almost indifferent to how people are wiling to put forth the extra effort to make a difference.
Personally, I’ve had two opportunities to be heroic; although, the incidents seem almost laughable now, at the time I was designated a hero, if only for a few minutes. The first incident was on the beach in British Columbia; it was a cloudy day and the water was cold; there were only two people in the water, a small boy and me. The boy was on an air mattress and had drifted about fifty feet from shore; I assumed the men to be his grandfather, father, and uncle, they were standing ankle deep in the cold water, wearing their swimming shorts and watching the boy.
I am a strong swimmer and usually swam long distances along the shore line to keep myself fit, but something told me to stay in this area and keep an eye on the boy: the currents were strong and could easily pull the flimsy life raft rapidly out to sea. The men watching the boy were Eastern European judging from their language and accents that I’d never heard before and couldn’t identify.
The boy was drifting out slowly, but was not really in trouble; I was reluctant to interfere, these men might think I was a nut or even a pervert and since they didn’t appear to speak English, the potential for a misunderstanding was even greater. At the risk of sounding prejudicial, I have found Eastern Europeans capable of doing the most inappropriate things during normal activities; I chalk this up to growing up and living in a Marxist-Leninist Society, where personal decisions are almost non-existent. Meanwhile, I continued to swim back and forth, while keeping a distance from the boy, but maintaining a safe watch on him.
There were small waves and some of the larger ones were approximately eight or ten inches. Suddenly, a wave caught the life raft from the side and dumped the boy off the raft. I waited for the boy to start swimming or for one of the men on shore to swim to him. On shore, the men watched everything and were frozen in shock or fear, the boy couldn’t swim; he went straight down, came up once for air, then went down again. I looked at the men in disbelief as they stood horrified and swam over a few strokes and found the boy under the water. I swam to shore with his face out of the water and with him hugged to my body. He was pretty much recovered by the time we walked through the shallow water and up to the three men. The grandfather, in perfect English, said “Thank You” and then turned to slap his two grown sons and yell at them in that strange language. Oh well, I can’t expect to understand other people’s cultures.
I’ve never had life guard training, but I have practiced swimming holding on to girl friends, just to “practice”. None the less, it worked and everything went well. I thought to myself that I had done something significant: I had saved a boy from drowning. It wasn’t dramatic, it didn’t require special skills or courage, it didn’t make the news, as a matter of fact no one but the five of us even knew it happened; still I felt good inside, while being careful not to blow the incident and my participation out of proportion. There was an incident and I stepped in to help; although, this is a minor incident it helps us realize and appreciate the sacrifice and dedication of our military in the Middle East.
There was an incident, and they have volunteered to step forward by the hundreds of thousands. Their commitment is far beyond swimming a few strokes to reach under the water for a drowning boy: they walk willingly into the possibility of violent death or the catastrophic maiming of their bodies. These are the Heroes. These are the Heroes who have kept our cities and homes safe from Terrorist attack for the last nine years. How will “We” ever be able to say, “Thank You”?