So, today, I wanted to give you a little different slant on the word Hero. Everyday citizens were on the receiving end this time, as our military's Medal of Honor winners handed out the awards to those who went above and beyond for their fellow man. Here are some of the stories:
Marcos Ugarte, of Troutdale, Oregon, wasn’t even thinking; he just knew he had to do it. He propped up a ladder against a burning home, climbed it and pulled to safety a 7-year-old boy who had been trapped in a second-floor room. Along with two other companions who helped in the rescue, 15-year-old Marcos received an award for bravery and sacrifice.
Father Carroll, of San Diego, California was being honored for starting the Joan Kroc Center, a transitional housing program that has offered health care, job training, counseling, food and supplies for the homeless. The program often works with veterans, who are among the most difficult to rehabilitate, Carroll said. “They’re usually the hardest group to work with because there’s a real emotional breakdown,” Carroll said. “They did risk their lives, they did go to war for us … and we need to find better ways to take care of them.” Father Carroll stepped in to fill that gap.
Also honored were Jesse Shaffer III and Jesse Shaffer IV, a father-son duo who braved 100-plus mph winds during Hurricane Isaac to rescue 120 people stranded in their homes as floodwaters inundated the town of Braithwaite, La., in August 2012. Town officials were forced to call off rescue efforts because their vehicles couldn’t get through high waters, but the Shaffers set out in their flatboat, making dozens of rescues during a 16-hour period. In one harrowing rescue, the Shaffers saved a family of five, including young children, from the roof of a trailer moments before it was engulfed by 18-foot waves. “It had to be done,” said Jesse Shaffer IV. “It wasn’t something I was forced to do, I was going to go in there no matter what.”
|Medal Winners: Shaffer III, Father Carroll, Shaffer IV, Ugarte|
While each of the citizen heroes expressed the feeling that what they had done pales in comparison to the real Medal of Honor winners, their military counterparts disagreed. “We’re surrounded by heroes every day, ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” said Thomas G. Kelley, a former captain in the Navy who was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading a convoy of boats against attacks from enemies during the Vietnam War. “They risked their lives to save somebody else who was helpless at the time. That’s about as noble you can get .... We were getting paid to do it. We were in uniform and we were in conflict and battle, and we were expected to do it,” said Kelley, who serves on the Citizen Service award’s selection panel. “These people, there’s just something ingrained. When something happens, they respond.”
Since its inception in 2008, the Citizens Service award has been presented on March 25 — National Medal of Honor Day. This year marked the 150th anniversary of the day dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients. And, as exemplified by these brave and honorable everyday citizens, it's nice to know that heroism isn't just limited to the military. We need more stories like these!
Matthew 20:27-28 "... and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."