“It takes a whole lot of faith to put a child on a school bus.” I vividly remember saying this to my grandmother as we watched my son get on the school bus for the first time as a kindergartner in 2002. I will always believe this statement. I will go even further now and say that it takes a whole lot of faith to drive a school bus. There are jobs that I know I could not do. This is one of them.
Upon hearing of the bus accident in Laton Hill last Thursday, my first thought was the safety and wellbeing of the children. Next, my mind went to the driver. What emotions she must have felt! It’s hard to even imagine. Until an incident occurs, we often take certain individuals for granted. Early Friday morning, I heard about Andrew and Austin, two brothers who were passengers on the bus. At ages 16 and 15, they were likely among the oldest passengers. After realizing they survived a crash, the two sprang into action to lead their fellow passengers off of the overturned bus and to safety. What calm and steady voices they must have had! What leadership they must have demonstrated! Not only did the brothers assist other students, but they went to the aid of the bus driver who was still fastened in the driver’s seat by her seatbelt. Due to the angle of the bus, she was unable to unbuckle herself, but the Moss brothers were there for her.
I do not know the parents of these boys, but I know that they must be thankful for the fact that their sons and everyone else’s children survived the accident. No doubt there is pride for the initiative their boys took and the leadership they displayed. I’d guess that they are humbled, just absolutely captivated by the fact that their boys, so close in age, who probably argue, fuss and fight around the house, looked to each other for leadership and served with the best interests of others in mind. What else could a parent hope for?
Yes, good grades and high ACT scores will get you scholarships. Yes, athleticism and dedication to a team will warrant recognition from the community, the coach, the team. Yes, organizational and study skills are a must for life. Yes, in order to keep a job, you must be punctual and know your tasks. Every single one of these things is important. I dare not diminish the value of a solitary one of these.
However, the lesson that resonates here is stronger than athletics, academics, punctuality and responsibility.
The lesson here is compassion for others. As a parent, that’s what captures my attention, the compassion. The boys’ concern was not just for each other but for every individual on that school bus. I imagine that there were tears, screams and emotional meltdowns as these occur with accidents and unexpected incidents. According to the accounts that I have read and heard, these boys handled everything as calmly as an adult would have until other adults arrived at the scene.
No one told them that they had to do anything for anyone else. They could have simply dialed 911 and waited, but they didn’t. They saw the needs and they met the needs without reservations and second thoughts. Heroes can be defined in a variety of different ways and in a myriad of contexts. I found an anonymous Internet definition that seems to fit the term regarding Andrew and Austin. A hero is “any common person placed in uncommonly difficult circumstances who displays uncommonly noble character.”
I know that when those boys woke up Thursday morning, heroic actions were the furthest things from their minds. They were likely thinking about Bulldog football, the lunch menu, the homework they needed to catch up on and what their friends were up to after school. I doubt they even considered the likelihood of an accident and they had no time to practice heroics.
Still. In the time of need, they responded with courage, determination and wisdom beyond their years. That’s something that doesn’t come without discipline and compassion. Job well done, mom and dad. I know that you and many other sets of parents hugged your children a little tighter Thursday evening. To all of the bus drivers, you are appreciated. You have a tough job and so much responsibility. To every parent who watches through the window as your child loads a bus, yes, it takes an extreme amount of faith.
To the Moss brothers, thank you for the example of courage that you set. Your actions were being noted by younger students and by adults. What you accomplished is outstanding.
The world needs more young people like you.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.