Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Son, My Hero

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

My Son, My Hero

Article excerpt

If the fire department hadn't called, I might never have known.

My 16-year-old son, Anton, had gone to the local swimming hole, a place along a river that flows through my small Maine town. Most of the kids who swim there are fit, robust teens, and there are plenty of rocky outcroppings for them to use as safe harbors, so I had no fears for his well-being.

Still, the firefighter's first words, "You need to come up here to the Stillwater River," made me catch my breath, and his follow- up words gave me scant relief: "Your son is OK."

When I got to the river, I immediately saw the firetruck, ambulance, and police cruiser, not to mention the crowd of people milling about. And there - the still point amid the hubbub - was Anton, sitting quietly on a low platform of the fire engine, with a towel wrapped about his shoulders.

I hurried over to him. "You OK?" I pleaded.

"Yeah," was all he said. But my eyes begged for an explanation. I didn't get it from my son, however, who tends to play his cards close to his vest. I was filled in by the professionals who surrounded him.

The story was this: A couple in their 20s - out-of-staters unfamiliar with the Stillwater - had gotten caught in the current and began screaming for help. The man made it to a rock, but the woman was being swept under. Anton and his friend Tyler had just emerged from their swim when they heard the frantic cries. Without hesitation they plunged back into the water, swam out to the flailing woman, and brought her safely to shore.

In an age in which the word "hero" is broadcast with abandon and seemingly applied to anyone who makes it through the day, I realized that, in my son and his friend, I was face to face with the real thing - the disregarding of personal safety for the sake of another human being.

Yes, I know that teens are headstrong and possessed of a sense of the immortal self, but this didn't detract from the gravity of the event and the altruism of the desire to do good. …

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