One of the best working definitions of "courage" I've ever heard, and one that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani liked a lot (judging from how often he quoted it) is "being scared but doing what you have to do anyway."
This morning's profile in courage is a 50 year-old New York construction worker and Navy veteran named Wesley Autrey:
Who has ridden along New York’s 656 miles of subway lines and not wondered: “What if I fell to the tracks as a train came in? What would I do?”
And who has not thought: “What if someone else fell? Would I jump to the rescue?”
Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran, faced both those questions in a flashing instant yesterday, and got his answers almost as quickly.
Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.
Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.
The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said.
So he made one, and leapt.
Read on for the entire, amazing story. It has a happy ending and it won't spoil your breakfast.
A Man Down, a Train Arriving, and a Stranger Makes a Choice (New York Times, 3 January 2007)