If you ever want to give your faith in humanity a boost, take a look at the hero profiles on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission’s website. What is the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission you ask? From their website:
The two-fold mission of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission: To recognize persons who perform acts of heroism in civilian life in the United States and Canada, and to provide financial assistance for those disabled and the dependents of those killed helping others.
Reading these profiles is truly inspiring, and you may begin to notice some themes running through these stories of ordinary citizens who performed extraordinary acts of courage – usually on behalf of strangers. Many of these heroes credit their family relationships with giving them the core belief that every life is worth saving. The influence of parents is clear in profile after profile. The youngest medal recipients of 2011, three teenage Florida boys who saved a woman from drowning, explicitly credit their parents. “I grew up with my dad helping people,” one of the young heroes told reporters. This is the influence of family connection and strong attachment.
A second theme is the influence of rehearsal, either mental rehearsal or actual practice. Another teen medal recipient credited the self-discipline he learned in baseball practice with helping him rescue a drowning man. Other recipients cite safety drills in childhood, or hearing stories of courage and service to others with inspiring them and encouraging them to act. It is because of this rehearsal that heroes are able to act “without thinking.” The thinking happens ahead of time.
A third theme I observed in these profiles was gratitude – not the gratitude of the people whose lives were saved, although of course that’s there! – but the gratitude of each of these heroes to have been able to help! That is a truly beautiful thing, in my opinion.
So do yourself a favor and read a few of these profiles. Share them with your kids. Who knows? Maybe one day the Carnegie folks will be honoring you.