Excerpt from Modern Achievement: Heroes and Heroism
But true heroism does not wait even for such opportunities as these for the display of its high qualities. Common, ordi nary, every-day life abounds in notable exhibitions of the heroic mold of mind and soul. In a Memphis graveyard there is a stone erected to commemorate the heroism of a pilot - mistak enly celebrated as an engineer by our present secretary of state, Mr. John Hay - who, when fire was rapidly enveloping him at his post, refused to obey his captain's order to escape while there was yet a chance, but remained by his wheel, landed his boat so that all others might go safely ashore, and then, when escape was no longer possible for him, calmly stood there, ring ing his Signal bells, till the deck burned away under him and he sank into the fiery furnace below.
How often is a like heroism witnessed on the part of the firemen in our great cities! Theirs is the duty of putting out fires and preventing its extension to other buildings than those at first involved. But, like the heroes they are, they rush eagerly to that far more perilous work of rescuing men and women and little children under circumstances where the odds against their own escape are often as a hundred to one. Nor are these men buoyed up, as are the soldiers, by thoughts of a mention in general orders, or a promotion to high rank - nay, of the voice of History herself ringing down the long ages to come. They are simply heroes born, men capable, whatever their position in life may happen to be, of that great renunci ation which is the essence and the substance of heroism.
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