The media make use of the words “hero” or “courage” much more easily than I do in my book Courage Rewarded. One organization that I admire which uses a very strict definition of courage is the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Each year, since 1896, they have selected a small number of people for awarding the Carnegie Medal for acts of unusual heroism. According to their criteria, only civilians in Canada or the United States who knowingly risk their own lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the life of another person are eligible. Persons not eligible for awards include those whose normal duties require them to perform such acts (such as policemen or soldiers) and members of the immediate family. Thus, selection for the Carnegie Medal is a rare and highly respected honour.
One of those selected in 2010 for the Carnegie Medal for heroism is George Rusu, who came to the aid of a woman being attacked outside the drug store where he worked in Ottawa. Hearing the woman’s screams, and with no hesitation, Rusu rushed out and struggled with the attacker, being stabbed several times as he fought to save the woman. Both Rusu and the woman survived and required hospital treatment. The woman credited Rusu with saving her, stating: “he came to my rescue above and beyond the call of duty and I shall forever be grateful to him for that.” Congratulations George Rusu!