I, too, do not use the word "Hero" loosely! A year ago, when my son was only 10 years old, he put his life, knowingly, at risk to save the life of another. Unfortunately, I was not there. At a swim/video game party, my son jumped to the aid of his friend who was literally drowning. In his attempts to save his buddy, he was being drowned himself. He managed to swim away long enough to get air and then proceeded to go back and try again.
This time, he swam back over to his flailing distraught friend and shoved him with all his might into the shallow end of the pool. They were both coughing and crying at the edge of the pool, but thankfully, they were both ok. It was at that point when an adult realized something was wrong and came over to see what was the matter. Apparently all the adults were "involved" elsewhere and were not paying attention to the kids in the pool (that is another story in itself).
When I picked up my son from the party, he was quiet and looked frightened, but wouldn't tell me anything with all his buddies around. I knew something really bad happened when, as we were walking out, the boy who almost drowned said, "Thanks Dude." And then my son said, "Yeah, you really need to take swim lessons, ok?" Ten year old boys are so practical!!
On our ride home, I learned all the details and with tears in his eyes, he told me, "Mom, I had to get away from him to catch my breath, but I was only gone for like 3 seconds" [with guilt in his voice]. I, too, was in tears with fear and anger, but mostly with PRIDE. My son is truly a hero! He knew what could have happened and despite this very real fear for him, he couldn't not help his friend. Upon further questioning of the situation, I asked him why he swam back to his friend when he was almost drowned himself and this is what he told me, "I would give my life in order to save his." It was said without any thought or pause! This is MY son's character!!! I am without the proper words, even now, to express how proud I am of him. He is a true HERO!
(For the record, many more things were dealt with in regards to the complete negligence and lack of supervision at this kids' party, but my bottom-line is that I will never again assume proper supervision is at a swim party and make sure I'm there myself).