I saw this photo earlier this week and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Obviously, the gravity of the situation and the memories of this tragic day has been on all of our hearts and minds. But what struck me most about this photo, however, was the specificity of this man's actions, of this man's story. I don't know about you, but I've never had to make such a decision, to put my life on the line or risk serious injury for another. But that doesn't mean I haven't thought about it and wondered how I would respond in such a moment. Would I rescue those nearby? Or protect myself first? Not only did Officer Christopher Amoroso save the woman who needed his help, which clearly was a dangerous situation (his bruised eye), he returned to the scene and tried to save another.
This type of decision, this type of action, does not happen in a single moment. He didn't wake up that morning and decide, "I'm going to die a hero today." Instead, he probably woke with the same mindset he had the day before and the day before, and before, and before. Instead, he went about his day, acting similar to the many days before, routinely serving, thinking of others, and doing the right thing. How do I know that? Because conflict reveals our deepest truest selves. Because fear reveals what we care most about - ourselves? Or others? And when Officer Christopher Amoroso was confronted with one of the greatest conflicts our American soil has ever experienced, he chose to serve and protect others. He chose to be brave.
"Bravery," I tell my kiddos, "is not acting without fear. It's acting in spite of it, while you're surrounded with it, while you're immersed in it." I can only imagine how terrified Office Christopher Amoroso must have been. Yet, he still ran back to the burning towers, in hopes of saving another. Because he made that decision many days prior as he built himself into a routine of sacrifice, service, and bravery.
Doing the right thing - doing the hard thing - is a daily choice that becomes a habit, a reaction, and a lifestyle that allows us to do - when the time comes - the seemingly impossible. This is why small things matter, why character and integrity matter, and why holding that string that connects us all is so important. Because when we begin to falter, when our weaknesses begin to rear their ugly faces, we can look around and see our brothers and sisters holding us up inspiring us to stay strong, to do what is right and - if needs be - head back into burning buildings.
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