A Boy Saves His Enemy From Drowning
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE Christian Herald, through an able committee in New York City, awarded medals for acts of unusual heroism. The applicant for this honor had to come from the walks of every-day life and outside the ranks of paid or professional service, such as firemen, policemen, etc. The first medal was awarded to William Roher, of Delta, Pa., in recognition of his brave and humane act in rescuing Oliver Weiser from death by drowning. Although the young medallist is but a lad, yet, from a large and gallant company of heroes and heroines, he was chosen as the one to whom, all things considered, the highest honors were due. The deed for which this award was made, was described by Oliver Weiser, Sr., Postmaster at Delta, in the following letter:
" On a winter's afternoon, a number of children had repaired to Ramsay's Pond to skate. The pond was eight to ten feet deep. At some distance from the bank, the ice gave way under my son Oliver, and he was submerged, his head and shoulders alone excepted. He struggled a number of times to climb upon the ice, but as often it broke under his weight, the hole widening with his efforts. William Roher, a lad of fourteen, threw himself flat upon his stomach and began to crawl towards 0llie, directing his comrades to catch him and each other in turn by the feet, until a human chain should be formed to the bank. It was a desperately hard and dangerous task for the brave boy and his brave helpers, but they succeeded in getting my son from under the ice and safely to shore. During the progress of the work, Roher was in imminent peril, as he must have known he would be when he started out to save Ollie. He became partly submerged, and it looked as if he, too, would be lost under the ice, but he never once relaxed his grip on Ollie. What adds to the value of his noble and unselfish deed is the fact that the two boys have hereto-fore been opponents and antagonists ; their quarrelings twice resulting in Roher's having his head badly cut by stones, on one occasion necessitating the services of a surgeon in repairing the wound. His bravery is all the more creditable in that he sunk all personal differences in the hour of danger and trouble, and imperiled his life to save another's. William is a manly little fellow and, when not at school, is working to help support his mother and sisters."
The committee considered many cases of signal bravery, upon the part of people high and low, rich and poor, old and young. Some had rescued relatives, some friends, some even strangers, but the boy saved his enemy, one who had injured him. And this fact was justly regarded as a reason why he should receive the medal.
Those who are entertaining grudges against their neighbors, who are laying plans to resent some injury or to get even with some enemy, could profitably read and consider the story of this boy's forgiveness and love. He acted a great deal like one who had been in the school of Christ and learned of him. His medal, and similar ones, will be eloquent sermons, preaching to tens of thousands of people the principles of self-sacrifice, of magnanimity, and of bravery. The heroic act of this boy was one ray of the sun of the Saviour's love; was one drop of the ocean of his sacrifice. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.