It’s 1860 and Lake Michigan is about to swallow up the Lady Elgin and her 300 passengers. She has collided with a schooner and is sinking fast. After they jump into the freezing water, passengers hold onto any piece of wreckage they can find and hope they will survive until help arrives. 

For eighteen people that night, help arrived. Help by the name of Edward Spencer, a Northwestern University student. For six hours, Spencer battled breakers and saved fatigued passengers. He swam out, tied a passenger to a rope and pulled the ailing to safety. One after the other until he was too physically exhausted to take one more trip. 

All told, eighteen people were saved through his efforts. As he lay in the hospital the next day, still dejected that he couldn’t save more of the stranded, he reportedly asked his brother, “William, did I do my duty? Did I do my best?” 

Years later, newspaper accounts stated that Spencer was asked what he remembered the most about that evening. His reply was sharp and convicting, “That not one of those I rescued ever came back and said ‘Thank You’” 

Practice the art of being thankful. After all, there is much to be thankful for.

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