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Recognized Social Butterfly



At the end of Revere High School’s senior beach outing I attended with the rest of my academically accelerated class, an unassuming, unheralded student became a hero.

In the late afternoon, three of my slightly inebriated classmates whisked themselves into a motor boat that sped far out to sea. It was almost invisible in the distance. But after a while, we saw Ron, one of the male students who had gone on the boat, frantically swim towards shore. When he reached us, gulping for air and shivering from the extremely cold ocean currents, he managed to tell us that the boat had capsized, catapulting him and his two other classmates (Mary Ann and Neil) into the frigid water.  Mary Ann was such a poor swimmer that she began to sink. Neil, seeing her plight, grabbed onto her, firmly put his hand on her back, and kept both of them afloat, at least for the moment.

After we heard Ron’s harrowing tale, we were all amazed and thankful that Neil, who until then was pretty much of a nonentity during his three years in our advanced class, was courageously trying to save a fellow student from drowning.

Our next move was to call the Coast Guard. Its crew, an agonizing hour later, rescued Mary Ann and Neil. Both of them, suffering from hypothermia, were taken to the hospital and released soon afterward.

The next time that we saw Neil, we congratulated him for his heroism. He shrugged off the praise. He explained that when he saw Mary Ann vainly battling the ocean, he automatically tried to help her, never thinking of how futile it might be to keep both of them afloat for an unknown amount of time.

For the rest of the few weeks left in the semester, Neil resumed his modest ways, and our class went on with its normal grueling routine.

I don’t know what happened to Neil after we graduated. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he once again showed his prowess in an emergency and then humbly withdrew from the praise enveloping him.

Neil was not a superhero; he was a super mensch.



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