• When the Germans defeated France (temporarily) in World War II, lots of Jews went to Bordeaux, where they hoped to find passage away from France before the Nazis arrived and took them to concentration camps. The ship Kilissiarrived in port with a cargo of bananas, and the captain was astonished to see 600 people, all of whom were begging to be taken away before the Germans arrived. The captain of the Kilissi spoke to his crew, asking them whether they were willing to risk their lives in trying to save the Jews on shore. Every member of the crew was willing. The crew then dumped most of the bananas overboard, since they had no time to unload them. The Jews crowded on board, and the Kilissistarted to sail them to freedom. Almost immediately, however, the ship’s engines stopped. Fortunately, the ship had stopped only to allow on board two men and one woman who were in a rowboat and screaming to get the ship’s attention. The ship took the Jews to Portugal, but authorities there would not allow the Jews to disembark. However, the Jews were allowed to get aboard a French warship that was going to Morocco. Terry Wolf was one of the 600 Jews saved by the captain and his crew. She calls him “a gallant man to whom the value of human life meant more than bananas, profit, comfort, and personal safety. Whenever his final voyage, I hope it is to Paradise.”
• On 25 April 1989, at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Carl Boney and Michael Etowski, who were both 14 years old, climbed aboard the school bus. Things happened as usual for a while, but the bus driver, Richard Perry, suffered a stroke and slumped over. With no one steering the school bus, it went off the road and toward a utility pole. Mike said later, “I saw blue sparks and heard all this popping sound. I was slammed around. Then I jumped on the seat so I wouldn’t get shocked. Everyone was freaking out. I looked up front. It didn’t look like anyone was sitting in the driver’s seat.” Once past the utility pole, the bus headed for some trees. Carl, an African-American, went to the front and stepped on the brake, but he needed help because Mr. Perry’s foot was still on the gas. Mike reached the front and helped Carl. Mike managed to turn off the ignition, and the bus came to a stop. Mike used his Boy Scout training to open Mr. Perry’s airway and keep it open until paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, Mr. Perry died later in a hospital. According to Mike, “We’re just ordinary boys.” Carl added, “What we did was natural.” Because of these two boys’ actions, no kids were hurt on the bus.
• Grammy nominee violinist Philippe Quint was seriously worried when he left a 285-year-old 1723 Kiesewetter Stradivarius violin — loaned to him by owners Clement and Karen Arrison — in the back seat of a New York taxicab on 21 April 2008. Fortunately, the driver of the taxi — Mohammed Khalil, a Muslim who was born in Egypt — contacted him and returned the violin. Mr. Quint said, “I cannot describe it in words, the feeling that I was going through at the time. I was frantically looking for the violin that whole morning.” Mr. Quint gave Mr. Khalil a $100 reward, performed a 30-minute concert for Mr. Khalil and other taxi drivers at Newark Liberty International Airport, which is only 15 miles from Midtown Manhattan, and gave Mr. Khalil and his family tickets to one of his concerts at Carnegie Hall. In addition, the city of Newark gave Mr. Khalil a medal. The Italian Antonio Stradivari made the violin, which has been owned by the 18th-century German composer and violinist Christophe Kiesewetter.Mr. Khalil says that he was simply doing the right thing in returning the violin.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved