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This is What Has Always Made America Great

I don’t know his name. I don’t need to know his name.

By Peter Heck

He represents everything I’ve always believed America is about. Despite our tenuous grip on a once pronounced national moral fiber, despite our contentious politics and divided loyalties, there remains an inherent goodness and self-sacrificial strain in the hearts of Americans that emerges in times of trouble.

It was evident when people from the Midwest drove through the night to New York City the day the towers fell, armed with shovels, flashlights, and water, just in case they could get through to help.

And it was evident when a reporter approached an unknown man and his friend who had pulled their boat behind the back of a pick-up truck onto the flooded streets of Texas. The two men, one white, one black, began preparing the boat for launch when the news crew approached them.

If you haven’t seen the stirringly simple exchange it went like this:

Reporter: You guys just uh, jumping in to help out?

Man: Yes sir.

Reporter: Yeah?

Man: Yes sir.

Reporter: Where you coming from?

Man: Texas City.

Reporter: Texas City?

Man: Yes sir.

Reporter: What uh, what are you gonna do?

Man: I’m gonna go try to save some lives.

Reporter: Yeah? 

Man: Yes sir.

No one asked them to go there. No government instructed them to do it. No one provided them money to fill their boat’s gas tank. No one offered them a reward for their work. No one told them a news crew would document their efforts. No one guaranteed them they would be successful or that they would even come back alive themselves.

But they were there anyway because their fellow men were in danger and needed help. This is the embodiment of the purest virtue in the image-bearing souls God gave us — that greater love has no one than the man willing to lay down his life for a friend. Or in this case, complete strangers.

That’s what has always made America great. Not its military, its economy, its scholarship, or its science, but its people.

Praise God for those nameless heroes, and may He bless their efforts and the souls of those they came to save.

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