July 02, 2004

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

Just before we went down to Oak Island last year, two people drowned as a result of rip currents (Public Service Announcement: rip currents are dangerous but can be dealt with. If you're planning a trip to the ocean - or even one of the Great Lakes - this summer, stop reading this and go learn about them). Debra Teague, despite being unable to swim, went out to rescue her daughter Brandi from a rip current. She was able to save Brandi but drowned in the process.

For her heroism, Debra Teague was posthumosly awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for her actions. In a ceremony on June 12, the Coast Guard presented the medal to her family:

“(Debra) heard screams and saw her child in distress,” said Coast Guard senior chief Newman Cantrell. “She could not swim but reached Brandi and got her to shore. As any mother would do, she put the life of her children ahead of her own. Your mother was a very brave person,” he told them.

Randall Manes, a vacationer from Greensboro, helped Brandi and Jodi from the water that day and then tried to help Debra Teague struggling against the strong undercurrent. He also got caught in the powerful flow but made it back to shore.

Another man helped get Debra Teague to shore, where beachgoers attempted to revive her. She was later pronounced dead at Dosher Memorial Hospital.
My heart goes out to the family for their loss. But why am I writing about this? It's because of what happened next:
Brandi buried her head into her father’s side as rear admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, commander of 5th Coast Guard District, pinned the medal over her heart.
Now let me get this straight. Poor Brandi is put on the spot in front of a bunch of strangers, explicitly reminded that her mother died to save her, and then 'Here, kid, here's a shiny medal.'?

Am I the only one who thinks this is unnecessarily cruel?

Posted by Chris at July 2, 2004 03:47 PM

Category: Random Vacation Thoughts

I don't agree with you on this one... basically because of the time lag. If it had been right after her mom had died saving her, then I think it could definitely be called cruel, or at least damn poor judgment.

But as it took place a year afterward, I think you can call it a nice tribute to her mother, and a healthy reminder of the Really Important Things to the girl. Sad, but good for the soul.

Posted by: chess at July 3, 2004 04:30 AM

I didn't make clear that I'm not objecting to the ceremony itself; it's the fact that they made the daughter the focus of the presentation. I think they should have presented the medal to the widower and kept the kids in the background.

Posted by: Chris of Dangerous Logic at July 3, 2004 02:09 PM

Ah. OK, agreed, then. That puzzled/bothered me too.

Posted by: chess at July 3, 2004 08:45 PM