Courage, Undaunted


Where does courage come from? What makes one person willing to put his or her life on the line, while another person will shirk from such a responsibility? Is courage something you are born with, or is it a trait that you can develop?

I found myself asking such questions after reading the sad story of a 12-year old boy who lost his life after running back into his burning house to look for his dad, thinking he was still inside.

Sanford Harling III, whom his family called “Man Man”, thought that since his dad had been home recovering from hip surgery and was unable to walk, that he was still inside and would need assistance getting out of the house.

However, unbeknownst to Sanford, his dad had already leaped to safety from a second-floor window (breaking his back as a result of the jump).

I can’t imagine the courage required to run into a house that is on fire; that is why firemen are among the people I most admire. But this was just a 12-year old boy with no training in fire rescue and with no protection from the heat and smoke. Just unconditional love for his dad and a willingness to put the needs of someone else ahead of his own.

Apparently Sanford loved football and played for the local youth team, and when I read his story I couldn’t stop thinking of the following lines from the poem, “To An Athlete Dying Young“:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
I have a feeling that Sanford’s name will live on long past his unfortunate death, and will serve as a reminder of what courage and love are all about.
RIP Sanford.

P.S. A GoFundMe page has been established in Sanford’s name, with all of the proceeds going to the Harling family to support them through this difficult time. The fund has already reached its fundraising goal, but that does not mean that it has stopped accepting donations.

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