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Heroes and cowards

Over a period of years we at Samizdata have noted cases of cowardice in those who are paid to rescue fellow humans in mortal danger. At least one organization maintains that level of bravery. The US Coast Guard motto is: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.” This is why I have no sympathy whatever for those who follow ‘regulations’ and hide behind them rather than do their jobs. If they did not wish to put their life on the line to save others, they should have found a different line of work.

If you want to see what real courage looks like, watch the early part of this documentary about an airline crash in DC. It was caught on camera and it shows a standard to which all rescue personnel should aspire.

Incidentally… I was working on a job in Falls Church at the time and I believe I had been across that bridge earlier the same day.


11 comments to Heroes and cowards

  • Tim Worstall

    “I was working on a job in Falls Church at the time and I believe I had been across that bridge earlier the same day.”

    One for the small world theory. I was working in DC that day too. At Woodward and Lothrop at 10th and F. Lunchtime waiter in the restaurant there. Would have been crossing that bridge mid-arvo sometime to get back to Mount Vernon. But that was the day of the annual stock take so all hands did extra hours.

    Almost certainly would not have been on the bridge at that moment but could have been.

  • Mr Ed

    For those who would rule over us in a totalitarian way, caring about the food we eat, the films we watch, the websites we view, the things that we say and what we think, there is an awareness that their diktats would have to be enforced by bureaucrats. Every such bureaucrat has to struggle between his inner Eichmann and his inner Wallenberg, and those who show initiative, those who show courage in doing that which is not required or expected of them, present an uncomfortable prospect to the totalitarians, as it is just those types who might stop and think what they are doing as they harass, fine and jail those who have done nothing but commit victimless arbitrary crimes, or questioned authority, and might rebel, even in a small way, against the grey mist of the State.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Honourable mention in this context for the RNLI, too, I think.

    No cowardice on view there, and no refusal of duty under any circumstances.


    But then, they’re not bureaucrats, or ruled by bureaucrats, and very wisely they have a firm policy of NOT taking the State’s shilling in case, I imagine, of this sort of meddling.

  • staghounds

    Small world here too, I actually was ticketed on this flight, row 11 seat B.

    The boss changed her mind so I flew up two days earlier. It freaked me out to watch the scene of my own death, I’ll tell you.

  • Regarding RNLI, I recently heard a phone-in on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 about some lads who went out in a home-made boat and got into trouble when their oars broke.

    Said the British Public: there should be some sort of regulation of boats to stop people going to sea in un-seaworthy vessels so those poor sods in the RNLI don’t have to rescue idiots.

    Yelled I, at the radio: what business is it of yours? The RNLI folks are volunteers, they don’t have to rescue anyone they don’t want to, and I don’t hear *them* calling for government regulations on boats.

    Said the British Public: and people should have to pay to be rescued, too.

    Yelled I: The RNLI are funded voluntarily and they don’t think so.

    Honestly, the British Public have no idea what the word “voluntary” means.

  • Just watched the video. We sure need people like Lenny Skutnik.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – it could have been Staghounds, or others.

    Also very good comments on the RNLI.

    And Mr Ed’s comment is interesting.

    A government employee does not stop being a human being – the struggle between good and evil, continues within them.

    We have to make a choice – not once but so many times.

  • I was in Reston Virginia the day this happened.

  • Pat McCann

    I was in the Navy stationed at the “Navy Annex” just up the hill from the pentagon. I don’t recall why, but I was with the family at Ft. Belvoir when the news came over the radio.

  • Tim Worstall

    Didn’t Lenny Skutnik get the Medal of Honour? Freedom? Whatever it is the Americans say is like the GC?

  • Valerie

    Indeed Andrew Duffin,
    The documentary on the Penlee lifeboat disaster is a haunting reminder of RNLI bravery.