What a real hero looks like

I recently watched the movie The Finest Hours.  It tells the story of two tankers in the year 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod that are being destroyed by one of the worst storms ever experienced in that area.  The story focuses on the SS Pendleton and the incredibly brave rescue mission undertaken by four lifeguards located at Chatham Coast Guard Bernie Webber, Andrew Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey and Ervin Maske.

Discovering that it was based on a true story, I decided to investigate further.  Apparently, Hollywood did a decent job of sticking to the facts, although the relatives of the crew on board Pendleton say the crew did not panic as the movie tries to say, but rather were “calm, steadfast, and courageous” and prayed for God’s help, something only briefly shown by the producers.

There was something else I discovered that rather annoyed me about the retelling.  Bernie Webber, the coxswain of the lifeboat, clearly had a faith in God that was never mentioned.  His wife said Bernie told her it was God who had guided him through the waters, and there is a wonderful audio recording of Bernie Webber being interviewed about what happened that night when he repeatedly mentions the workings of the Lord

The thing that really gets me about Bernie Webber is his humility.  He sounds almost embarrassed during the interview, and the impression he gives is that he was just doing his job.  Of course he was scared, but he knew his duty and did it.  The other crew members seem to be cut from the same cloth.  Andrew Fitzgerald didn’t even tell his wife what he had done until she was going through some old newspaper clippings and discovered his name among the heroes.

I am sure everyone reading this could name a genuine hero he knows personally or has met or heard of – both men and women from many nations, races, and backgrounds who have displayed similar courage.  Usually one of the outstanding attributes these people share is humility and a genuine surprise that they should be called heroes.

It is my hope that we get the message out to our children and grandchildren and show them that a real hero looks like Bernie Webber and not some overpaid, overhyped celebrity.