Two Heroes
January 3, 2007 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Two stories of personal heroism, with 2 sadly different results.
posted by theora55 (53 comments total)
 
Two borked links, with sadly similar results...
posted by Mister_A at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2007


You're comparing soldiers in the Iraq war to a guy who saved someone from being run over by a NYC subway train?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:51 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here is the first story, which restored my faith in humanity as I ate my cheerios this morning.
posted by found missing at 10:52 AM on January 3, 2007


Iraqis can't get run over by subway trains. The electricity's been shut off for 4 years.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:54 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's some good shit. And I've always been curious as to whether there was sufficient clearance under a train to pull a stunt like that. The kid would have certainly been decapitated if he had been able to rouse himself, disoriented, to any upright position.
posted by docpops at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2007


The only bad thing about the subway story is that now I fear others will try to be heroes, and get run over by trains. The same way people jump down to get their stuff and get stuck, because they've seen other (probably taller, in better shape) people do it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:57 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh jeez, well, I suck at the links. Flagged, and emailed.

Yeah, I think a guy who jumps in front of a train to save someone is heroic. And a guy who literally falls on a grenade to save his friends is a hero. Calling the 1st guy a hero is not in any way intended to diminish the other person. I'm opposed to the war in Iraq, but I am deeply appreciative of the willingness of others to put their lives on the line. I hate my governments willingness to put them in a war zone for bad reasons, based on lies.

Googling heroism returns some very interesting pages, but it felt like it would have been padding the post unnecessarily.
posted by theora55 at 10:59 AM on January 3, 2007


Second story
posted by photoslob at 10:59 AM on January 3, 2007


I'd have jumped out of the truck, myself. I don't know much about grenades though - I suppose if I thought it would still kill me and all my buddies, well maybe I'd jump on it. Poor kid.
posted by Mister_A at 11:02 AM on January 3, 2007


The only bad thing about the subway story is that now I fear others will try to be heroes, and get run over by trains. The same way people jump down to get their stuff and get stuck, because they've seen other (probably taller, in better shape) people do it.

Don't count on it. I think people will be just as reluctant to jump in front of moving trains today as they were yesterday before they read this.

But yeah, it's way harder to get back up off the tracks than it appears. I did it once and I'm 6'+ and it was a little difficult.
posted by milarepa at 11:05 AM on January 3, 2007


I certainly hope you're right.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:08 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The subway hero story would have been better linked alone. It's exemplary because it's rather hard to pin a seizure victim into a small trench area while a massive multi-ton steel vehicle passes overhead with a 2-ft clearance. It's amazing they both escaped death or serious injury.

It is not news that our soldiers are heroes who place themselves in the line of danger every day for our safety, security, freedom, and unfortunately at times evil politician-backed corporations. I'd have liked to celebrate the story with the happy ending without the downer of reading about a soldier killed. We are well informed that this sort of tragic thing happens, and happens often (too often) in combat situations. But it's not unusual, not even in peacetime scenarios - it happens regularly in peacetime situations by way of equipment accidents and other non-combat tragedies. Many innocent citizens are killed every year doing their private sector non-military jobs, too. (not to mention Iraqi citizens getting killed by the same insurgent psychopaths who are killing the US soldiers)

I say this because, now we're at 3,000 military deaths, there are a lot of individual stories coming out in the press. Stories about dead teenagers and young widows and heartbroken parents, along with disfiguring injuries and nauseating fatality details... It's bad enough that our soldiers are seeing this stuff on the front lines and suffering PTSD and other emotional disorders on top of their physical injuries. Maybe it's a bit harsh to subject people reading the morning news to stories of 19-year-old kids throwing themselves on grenades, don't you think? Especially when a simple announcement that a soldier died honorably in combat is suffice to get the point across. Still awful and tragic, just not nightmare-inducing.

(similarly, the TV networks had to be told by way of surveys and complaint letters that people were sick of seeing video footage of a well-known disaster that killed 3,000 people in a brutally short timeframe. It was churning stomachs and causing a national stress-induced disorder. We couldn't move on until the media producers decided enough was enough. Now they won't show it at all, not without good reason. That works out better for everyone... we all know what happened on 9/11, we just don't need to re-live it daily.)
posted by brianvan at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2007


I've jumped onto the tracks before to get things. I imagine it'd be hard if you weren't filled with adrenaline. :-D

I was deeply moved by both these stories (which I saw before) -- the kid jumping on the grenade perhaps even more so because it was so sad.

And I'm very very much opposed to the war, AND believe that the soldiers bear some serious responsibility -- BUT jumping on a grenade for your friends is the height of self-sacrifice, you have to admire it.

What a waste.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:14 AM on January 3, 2007


I agree... I think the subway story stands on its own. It's a soldier's job to jump into harm's way, but a man waiting to take his 2 daughters on the subway has signed up for no such thing, quite the contrary. The odds of that scenario turning out so well were pretty low. That man did an incredible thing.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:22 AM on January 3, 2007


Wow you people are tough. It is not a soldier's duty to jump on a live grenade. He would not have been reprimanded or otherwise disciplined had he leapt from the truck to save his own skin (assuming he lived). This soldier sacrificed his own life in the hope (not even a certainty!) that it might save the lives of his friends. That is above and beyond the call of duty.

On another note: This post would be weak if it were just the one story; that's been all over the news anyway. Theora's post is showing two sides of heroism - I appreciate the sentiment and the symmetry of this post.
posted by Mister_A at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2007


There are still heros in this world.
posted by caddis at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2007


That subway story was badass.
posted by Science! at 11:33 AM on January 3, 2007


I told several people about the subway story this morning. The part that made me cry was the man calling up to say that he was okay and would someone tell his daughters. I just imagined the girls up there alone, wondering. Thankfully, it was the best of endings. These girls know that their dad is a true hero; they will always be proud of him. As Jack Nicholson said, it makes me want to be a better person.
posted by ameliajayne at 11:36 AM on January 3, 2007


I never said that it was a soldiers job to jump on a live grenade. That's a big step from what I meant. I meant that his life is inherently in the face of danger every day. Soldiers are trained for it and are living by their basest gut instincts, whatever they may be. That soldier's were to save his friends & that's heroic. I never said it wasn't.

I went to a concert at the Troubadour once, and a guy standing next to me dropped to the ground. He was stricken with some kind of anneurism or something, I'm not sure. People stood there with their drinks in hand and watched him twitch and writhe on the floor. My friends and I were the ONLY people in the entire club who ran to call 911. As the paramedics worked on this guy, they didn't even postpone the concert... on the other side of the room people were dancing as this guy died on the floor next to me. So... that someone would jump on a subway track to help a STRANGER (not even a friend) in distress thoroughly impresses me. Some people won't even bother to put down their cocktails.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:36 AM on January 3, 2007


Soldiers fight for the guy next to them.

Our duty as citizens is to ensure that the reasons they are sent into combat are not stupid.

And the subway guy jumped onto the tracks to help another man in front of his two daughters. I guarantee you my first instinct would have been to move my daughters away and cover their eyes, but he jumped in to help the stranger.

Both these men reacted in a second, thinking of the other person. What extraordinary acts.
posted by dglynn at 11:40 AM on January 3, 2007


I just imagined the girls up there alone, wondering scared out of their minds. Hope they're young enough that the mental picture of Daddy getting run over by a train doesn't haunt them forever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:46 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


OMGWTFBBQ Subway Rescue! and as for the other story, very moving, but the only thing I can think of to say is:

.
posted by Doohickie at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2007


yeah, i'm not feeling the two story thing either.

The subway story is amazing.

The soldier story feels like a tacked on emotional jab.
posted by dozo at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2007


What a selfish act, scaring his girls like that.
posted by found missing at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2007


I thought both stories were fascinating. Thanks for the post.

From the second story: In a USA Today-Gallup poll in October, 11 percent of respondents said they had a close friend, family member or co-worker who was wounded or killed in the Iraq war; an additional 43 percent had a friend, relative or colleague who had served in it.
posted by russilwvong at 12:04 PM on January 3, 2007


Okay, maybe we can agree this is post is about jumping. Or gravity. In two acts.
posted by hal9k at 12:12 PM on January 3, 2007


Okay, maybe we can agree this is post is about jumping. Or gravity. In two acts.

heh heh. That's much better than what I was thinking. (Story started as "I need to say something bad about President Bush." Dead soldier story comes into play. Subway story somehow made it into an artistic juxtaposition because it's really interesting. And even if I'm not correct, one could not blame me for surmising that a notable frequency of FPPs and New Yorker columns begin in the exact same fashion.)

Also, regarding the instinct to jump on the tracks for any purpose: not really happening for me. I do know to lay under the train above all other escape routes, though. It's nice that you can do that on the subway. Do not try that with a commuter train, though... they run at 70mph and have a 2 inch clearance from the ground, which means you will be turned into hamburger meat in short order.
posted by brianvan at 12:20 PM on January 3, 2007


Personally I appreciated the grenade story. I often wonder: whom do I know that I'd have no problem sharing a foxhole with? How many of your friends or your family members would you throw yourself on a grenade for?
posted by drinkcoffee at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2007


The juxtaposition of the two is interesting and makes a good post. The subway story was on the front page of CNN.com yesterday; had it been posted alone, it would have been NewsFilter of the worst sort.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:46 PM on January 3, 2007


What I didn't understand about the subway story was -- did he know there was a couple of feet of clearance under the train? Or did he just act on instinct? When I read it, I couldn't help wondering, what if he and the the man he was trying to save had both been crushed by the train? Would his daughters grow up to think he was a hero?
posted by escabeche at 1:21 PM on January 3, 2007


Where I'm from we don't call them heroes, we call them grinders. Is that relevant here? Does it make a difference that it happened in a Subway?

This thread is making me unexpectedly hungry.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


You're comparing soldiers in the Iraq war to a guy who saved someone from being run over by a NYC subway train?

Here's what this post is about: It doesn't matter if you're a soldier or a subway rider, being a hero is about going above and beyond, taking significant personal risk, on behalf of people you barely know -- or don't know at all.

Now all of you stop being haters, and respect the risks they took on behalf of others. How many of you don't even hold the elevator door for another person?
posted by davejay at 2:15 PM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, one more thing...

did he know there was a couple of feet of clearance under the train? Or did he just act on instinct? When I read it, I couldn't help wondering, what if he and the the man he was trying to save had both been crushed by the train? Would his daughters grow up to think he was a hero?

Tough call -- is someone a hero if they evaluate the risks, determine that the result is worth the risk, and go for it, or is someone a hero if they act without evaulating the risks beforehand...or both?

I can make a case for both:

"He's a hero. Anyone can act on instinct and do something without truly understanding the risks, but when you are fully aware of the risks and push through your fear to help someone else -- now THAT is a hero."

"He's a hero. Sure, you can evaluate the risks and save someone if the risk is worth it, but by that time it may be too late. Imagine throwing yourself into a situation like that, with no fear, because your instinct is to save someone else -- now THAT is a hero."
posted by davejay at 2:22 PM on January 3, 2007


er, make a case for EITHER
posted by davejay at 2:23 PM on January 3, 2007


How many of you don't even hold the elevator door for another person?

I sure as hell don't. I pretend to, and then when they're between the doors, I make 'em close and crush 'em! BaBOOM! HAHHAHAHAH!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:34 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Where I'm from we don't call them heroes, we call them grinders.

Japanese cop slang for people hit by trains is "maguro" or tuna. Totally ruined one of my favorite sushi dishes for me hearing that.
posted by Standeck at 2:54 PM on January 3, 2007


Where I'm from we don't call them heroes, we call them grinders.

Here we just call them subs.

And I've always thought of a hero as someone who is absolutely terrified of something, and does it anyway.
posted by quin at 3:27 PM on January 3, 2007


Which is to say, I think it's a label that can be appropriately applied to the protagonists of both these stories.
posted by quin at 3:28 PM on January 3, 2007


Maybe it's a bit harsh to subject people reading the morning news to stories of 19-year-old kids throwing themselves on grenades, don't you think? Especially when a simple announcement that a soldier died honorably in combat is suffice to get the point across. Still awful and tragic, just not nightmare-inducing.

I'd willingly trade more nightmares for fewer bodies.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2007


Here's what this post is about: It doesn't matter if you're a soldier or a subway rider, being a hero is about going above and beyond, taking significant personal risk, on behalf of people you barely know -- or don't know at all.

Now all of you stop being haters, and respect the risks they took on behalf of others. How many of you don't even hold the elevator door for another person?
posted by davejay at 5:15 PM EST on January 3


I totally agree.

It's bad enough that our soldiers are seeing this stuff on the front lines and suffering PTSD and other emotional disorders on top of their physical injuries. Maybe it's a bit harsh to subject people reading the morning news to stories of 19-year-old kids throwing themselves on grenades, don't you think? Especially when a simple announcement that a soldier died honorably in combat is suffice to get the point across. Still awful and tragic, just not nightmare-inducing.

I totally disagree. Give the hero his due. Your version just cheapens his sacrifice.
posted by caddis at 6:09 PM on January 3, 2007


I second Caddis. Regardless of your beliefs on the war, this boils down to one person deciding to protect his friends/fellow soldiers. And the guy in the subway did the same thing.

I am a First Responder in an industry that can be dangerous at times and I cannot tell you with absolute certainty the decision that I would make if the situation might call for the risk of my own life. I learned in EMT school that people who discount procedure to be a hero were celebrated by the public, but chastised by their superiors for taking risks. The number one rule is that "you can't help anyone when you're dead."

That hasn't stopped me from doing "stupid" things, though...
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2007


Cheapens? So it's worth more if one takes a grenade, not so much if a soldier dies by having a heart attack out on the battlefield or by accidentally falling off an aircraft carrier on the way to battle, eh?

The method of death doesn't matter. The fact that they're dead doesn't even matter. The honor is there. All of their lives are on the line. The loss of some is too painful for us to bear. But it has no effect on the respect they deserve. They get our respect just for going over there, voluntarily, so that others shouldn't have to. So that we don't have to have a draft or so that we don't have to send 14-year-olds overseas to war like some countries do.

Therefore, we should be spared from the horrors unless we absolutely seek them out. If you enjoy the macabre and nauseating details, websites and cable TV exists to detail it when desired. But when it's used, cheaply, to argue a political agenda? Cause that's why these papers report these stories, and that's how that link ended up in the OP.
posted by brianvan at 7:12 PM on January 3, 2007


Clarify: combat injuries and deaths DO matter. They matter to families and friends. But it's got nothing to do with how much respect our armed forces deserve. If there wasn't a death in the Army for 10 years, I'd still respect each and every one of them.
posted by brianvan at 7:14 PM on January 3, 2007


Choosing to risk one's life by joining the army is one thing, choosing to knowingly end one's life to save others is an entirely different level of sacrifice. Yes, in the end you are dead either way. Nevertheless, the latter is the harder choice to make. I am sorry if you fail to see the difference.
posted by caddis at 7:53 PM on January 3, 2007


Further, we should not be spared from the horrors. That is so FOX News. We need to see the horrors so we know what we get ourselves into. Hiding your head in the sand and pretending that the horrors aren't real is just sad.
posted by caddis at 8:03 PM on January 3, 2007


The horrors are very real. But what does poring over them do for us, exactly?

We're not a society that accepts war blithely. We've made a ton of movies about it, for example. Also, there is a long history of war photography (and of nasty things having happened to war photographers and reporters, as well) Maybe some of our congressmen need reminders before they vote on wars, but generally we've had plenty of exposure.

So, again, why not just factually express the most relevant information without resorting to the gory details? A guy jumping on a grenade is pretty heroic and notable, I must admit, but do we need a mental image of a young man being blown to gibblety bits to be distributed to the American public? One should consider that decision carefully. It's a disturbing and trauma-inducing image.

However, you're suggesting that we describe it anyway. You want civilian American viewers to be subjected to horrors - and not merely to be reminded in lesser terms that combat is highly dangerous for troops and that we're losing troops over there. Therefore, you want people to be traumatized by combat injuries and fatalities when they're not even in the Army.

And you've revealed why you feel that way in your answer. Because FOX News isn't doing that. And that suggests that Fox News is not telling the ugly, dark side of the story you want the world to hear. Because Fox News is Conservative-leaning, and you're not a Conservative. And they don't show the ugly side of the war because if they showed people suffering from horrific and fatal injuries in the war, people would be repulsed and sickened and have a much less sanguine view of the war.

So, are you suggesting that the news of a 19-year-old kid getting blown to bits should be included in the news as a political persuasion tool? I mean, even if I were completely against it, I don't think I'd take it that far. It would be like showing pictures of aborted fetuses to convey the message that abortion should be outlawed.
posted by brianvan at 9:07 PM on January 3, 2007


There are two issues here. Yes, kids being blown to bits is reality, both US kids and Iraqi kids. Show it. Show it in all of its inhumanity. Why sanitize it? Does it disturb you to think of this horror? Good. Think harder next time before entering war. Sometimes we must war, but know what it is. Saying that you can know without the pictures seems false to me. Just reflect on the impact of the Ahbu Ghraib images. 3,000 deaths is a statistic (just ask Tony Snow); this story is reality. If the reality is too tough, don't avoid it, change it.

However, this kid, he made a decision. Could you make that decision, could I? I don't know. His decision was heroic. It was more heroic than his decision to enlist. The mere fact of his death is no more tragic than the mere fact of any other soldier's death. Nevertheless, his heroic decision to trade his life for others is noble. Why hide that decision? Why squelch his noble act? You ask, "why not just factually express the most relevant information without resorting to the gory details?" Well, the fact that he traded his life for others IS the factually relevant information. It's not about the war, or the gory details, or impressing anyone with war's horrors, it's about the boy and his character. Just contemplate that selfless act for a moment. Merely reporting, "a boy died" barely does it justice, actually does it injustice. God bless you Pfc. Ross McGinnis, they don't make many folk like you.

Brianvan, all you seem to want are happy endings. Yeah, that subway story was great, but the post is about character, and heroism. Guess what, sometimes the heros die. Life doesn't always come with Hollywood endings.
posted by caddis at 10:37 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The invasion of Iraq has led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians being killed, life there has become a living hell, and refugees are fleeing the country in huge numbers. The trauma-inducing effects of TV footage of the war on the American public seems pretty mild in comparison.
posted by homunculus at 11:19 PM on January 3, 2007



So, are you suggesting that the news of a 19-year-old kid getting blown to bits should be included in the news as a political persuasion tool?


Are you implying that it isn't already, or possibly couldn't be? Don't kid yourself, just reread the first few paragraphs of that article. There's the good guys and the bad guys. And no offense to the guy, or the other soldiers, or anyone on this board, because it was a noble act, but at the same time, they were trying to kill the 'insurgent' just as much as the 'insurgent' was trying to kill them. If the roles had been switched, even if this story had somehow gotten to the press, I don't think it would have been portrayed in the same light--namely, this soldiers death is being used to give a very specific narrative of the war whereby the American soldiers are exemplary of 'American values' like friendship and honor, etc, in the name of an entirely faceless enemy. I honestly can't imagine the American press at this time presenting it any other way.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 11:27 PM on January 3, 2007


So ... what about the kid who threw the grenade?
</derail>

A few years ago there was a story about a guy who rolled into the space under the platform and survived. It turned out he had fallen/climbed onto the tracks at precisely the only place in the entire station where it was possible to do that, because of the trains' protruding electrical shoes.

Other people are regularly killed retrieving belongings. Some survive by the trough method, others don't, because trough depth varies.

TIME actually has a 1928 story about a 60-year-old man who used the trough to save himself ... from three successive trains.

Anyway, what found missing said. Just incredible.

So was the kid in Iraq.

Interestingly, Autrey himself (a veteran) said, "I don't call myself a hero because the real heroes are overseas dying for you and me." A columnist has called for the school he's helping to renovate be renamed after him (tacky, people should be dead first), because what he did was more heroic than anything John Wayne, its present namesake, ever did. Good point. What the kid's school is doing for Autrey and his daughters is fantastic.
posted by dhartung at 5:16 AM on January 4, 2007


Gothamist.com has an interesting follow-up on all the rewards the subway hero has received.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:43 AM on January 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


The New York Times follow-up is also worth reading.
posted by peeedro at 12:37 PM on January 4, 2007


Follow-up. The soldier has received a posthumous Medal of Honor.
posted by theora55 at 6:03 AM on January 12, 2007


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