This article appeared in the December 01, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Fire rescues: Could heroic neighbors be the new normal?

Isaac RitcheyThe Flint Journal/AP
Emergency personnel is shown at the scene of a fire and explosion at a home in Flint, Michigan, Nov. 22, 2021.

Arnez Merriweather is the kind of neighbor you hope lives nearby.

When a fire started Monday in the St. Louis apartment building next door, Mr. Merriweather ran to help. A family was trapped on the second floor. He encouraged the mother to drop her 3-year-old out the window, and he caught the girl. Then, Mr. Merriweather and another neighbor caught the mom and grandmother before firefighters arrived. “I’m just glad everybody is okay,” he told KTVI Fox 2. 

How often do such brave and selfless acts occur? A quick internet search reveals two more recent examples of neighborly heroism.

In Waverly, Ohio, Matt Mitchell was driving home after work when a woman flagged him down. A house was on fire – a place where he’d seen children’s toys in the yard when he’d driven by. “I immediately thought ... if my kids were in that house, what would I do or want someone to do?” Mr. Mitchell told the Chillicothe Gazette. “Instincts took over and I just took off running inside the house.” He rescued all three children and their mother.

On Chicago’s Southwest Side, Renaldo Vera was awakened by his dog barking early Monday. He rushed next door and pulled a 7-year-old boy and his mother from the burning building. “Anyone else would’ve done the same,” Mr. Vera told the Chicago Sun-Times.

He’s probably being modest. Most of us would consider any of these remarkable acts a rarity in an era when a me-first ethos prevails. Or does it? What if Mr. Vera is right? Perhaps, empathy and courage in a crisis are the new neighborly norm.

This article appeared in the December 01, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/01 edition
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