The Hero Fund is proud to announce the July 1, 2023 release of A New Century of Heroes (280 pages • 978-1-4930-7096-1 • $39.95 • Hardback • Lyons Press) – the updated and expanded edition of A Century of Heroes (2004, University of Pittsburgh Press). Edited by Hero Fund President Eric Zahren, the book features the stories of more than 200 rescues from the Hero Fund archives dating back to 1904.
Moved by the stories of two men who died trying to rescue others in the devastating Harwick Mine Disaster that killed all but one of 180 trapped victims, industrial philanthropist Andrew Carnegie created the fund to reward selfless acts of bravery and courage. Since its creation almost 120 years ago, the Hero Fund has awarded more than 10,000 medals and distributed more than $44 million in awards, grants, tuition, and other assistance.
A New Century of Heroes includes the tales of the clam digger who rescued a man from a burning retirement home, the dancer who prevented a robber from shooting two police officers at a nightclub, and the 23-year-old zoo volunteer who rescued a man who was mauled by a 320-pound tiger, among hundreds of other similarly harrowing events where real people risked their lives for others. It also details the creation and history of the Hero Fund, which for the last 120 years has been responsible for awarding the Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest civilian honor for heroism.
New sections include a chapter on the Hero Fund’s response to disasters ranging from the 1905 Grover Shoe Factory fire disaster in Brockton, Massachusetts to the more recent Covid-19 pandemic. “For better or worse, the Hero Fund is inextricably linked to disasters. After all, the impetus that spurred Andrew Carnegie’s desire to honor civilian heroes from an idea into action lay in the settled dust and debris of the Harwick Mine Disaster of 1904.”
In addition, several pages are dedicated to the Hero Fund’s celebration of 10,000 heroes held in 2018. At the gala, Carnegie Hero No. 10,000, Vickie Tillman, and Carnegie Hero No. 10,001, Jimmy Rhodes, were presented with the Carnegie Medal. NPR’s Scott Simon emceed the event; actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton served as the keynote speaker.
“Courage shows up all the time in this world and often without any fanfare,” said Keaton at the event.
Finally, the chapter on the six individuals who have been awarded the Carnegie Medal twice was updated to include the latest two-time awardees – Charles T. Carbonell, Sr., and Michael Robert Keyser.
The heroes featured in this book offer a cross-section of the thousands of honorees who have received the Carnegie Medal. They represent only a few of the inspiring stories that uphold the Hero Fund’s legacy, reminding us that true heroes are found, not on television or in comics, but in the uncommon strength that lives inside all of us.