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Top Ten Heroic Deeds of the Decade

The term “hero” brings many adjectives to one’s mind: strong, brave, caring, and in some cases, even self-sacrificing. Yet, in reality, heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

In doing research for this article, this author found countless accounts of heroism, and while only ten heroic deeds are listed in this article, this author wishes to thank each and every person who has ever put someone else’s safety above his or her own and took the time to make a difference in another person’s life.

1. The passengers on United Flight 93 that crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania (September 11, 2001) – The men and women aboard United Flight 93 fought against the hijackers who had killed the crew and taken over the flight, and as a result, these brave individuals stopped the hijacked plane from striking its intended target which many believe might have been the White House. These courageous souls sacrificed themselves in order to save the lives of others.

2. The firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, nurses, and other helpers who gave their lives to help save others in the World Trade Center attacks (September 11, 2001) – Many of these men and women sacrificed their own lives by going into the crumbling Twin Towers to try and save others who otherwise would have had no hope of survival. The examples of these heroes show how one does what is right no matter what the results may be. A wonderful website has been set up in honor of these individuals – www.9-11heroes.us/.

3. Liviu Librescu who protected his students in the Virginia Tech Massacre (April 16, 2007) – Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor and a professor at Virginia Tech, barricaded his Norris Hall classroom door with his own body, an act which enabled most of his students to escape through the windows. Mr. Librescu died after being shot multiple times through the door by Cho Seung-Hui. Mr. Librescu’s willingness to give his own life in order to save his students is the epitome of sacrificial love.

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4. Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Senior Sgt. Mark Todd who stopped the shooting spree of Major Nidal Malik Hasan in the Fort Hood Shootings (November 5, 2009) – These two civilian police officers confronted and stopped the shooting rampage of the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and injured 29 at the Fort Hood Military Base in Texas. Through the brave intervention of these two individuals, more lives that could have been taken were saved.

5. U.S. Airways Flight 1549’s pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who safely landed the plane in the Hudson River (January 15, 2009) – This veteran pilot safely landed the plane on New York’s Hudson River after losing power in both engines after a suspected collision with a flight of birds. Thanks to Mr. Sullenberger’s quick thinking and knowledge, all 155 people on board the plane survived.

6. Joel and John Rechiltz and their neighbors who worked together to save a woman and her two children from a burning SUV (July 21, 2009) These two Milwaukee firefighters (who were off duty at the time of the incident) and several of their neighbors pulled a woman, her four-year-old son, and her two-year-old daughter from the woman’s SUV after it burst into flames upon hitting a tree. Because of all of the interventions made by these two men and their neighbors, the woman and both of her children survived. This incident is a wonderful example of how several individuals pulling together to help can make a difference between life and death.

7. Mary Bussey who caught a baby who fell from a third floor balcony in Denver, Colorado (October 1, 2006) – Mary Bussey and her son were walking by a building when they noticed that a baby was dangling from the railing of a third floor balcony. At first, they thought it was a horrible joke when they realized that the baby was hanging by only one hand. Ms. Bussey positioned herself under the baby, and when the baby fell from eighteen and a half feet above, Ms. Bussey was able to catch her without any harm coming to either of them. This act of heroism shows that individuals must always be ready to get involved and help if the situation at hands calls for it.

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8. Organ and tissue donors everywhere who are willing to give the gift of life – Providing an organ or bodily tissue to someone is an ultimate gift of life. Many individuals donate their organs and bone marrow while living or upon death in order to give others in need of these precious gifts a chance at life that would not be available otherwise. To read about the stories of some of those people who have been blessed by a transplant, please visit www.organtransplants.org/faces/.

9. Quecreek Miners who survived after being trapped inside of a flooded Pennsylvania coal mine (July 28, 2002) – Mark Popernack, Randy Fogle, Harry “Blaine” Mayhugh, Tom Foy, John Unger, John Phillippi, Ron Hilemand, Dennis J. Hall, and Robert Pugh Jr. were all pulled from a flooded Pennsylvania coal mine after being trapped underground for more than three days. These men tied themselves together to keep them being washed away, and they are an exemplary example of the power of the human spirit to survive. These men are heroes not only because of their care and brotherly love for one another, but also for their willingness even to be coal miners. One would be hard pressed to find a job more challenging and life-threatening.

10. Cameron Aulner who tackled and held down a child molester in a Colorado Walmart until the police arrived (September 19, 2009) – Cameron Aulner, a 22-year-old wheelchair-bound Colorado resident, tackled a child molester who had sexually assaulted a young girl in a Walmart and was fleeing the scene. Mr. Aulner detained the man until the police arrived on the scene. It is good to know that there are brave citizens like Mr. Aulner who are not afraid to get involved and do what is right.