Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

There’s a meme that’s been making the rounds of the internet for a few years now: “Not all heroes wear capes.” How true that is.

Granted, usually the meme is employed in service to something witty or ironic, like for a kid who figures out how to save their younger sibling from having to eat the broccoli.

Every once in a while it is used sincerely, to honor someone who steps up and does something extraordinary. Something truly heroic.

Usually that form of sincerity makes me uncomfortable. I am way more at home with the snarky version. I am willing, however, to make an exception for the use of the phrase in relation to Manny Kourinos, a Falmouth man turned – yes, there really is no other word for it – hero.

You must have seen the story in the news by now.

Kourinos was out on the water in his lobster boat last week when he witnessed the mind-bending scene of a car sinking in the frigid water off the Portland East End boat launch.


A Massachusetts woman had driven the car, which had been reported stolen, off the launch. Kourinos alerted by the sirens of emergency responders, brought his boat around. Rescue crews were in the water, but divers hadn’t arrived yet. Kourinos quickly donned his own dive gear and went in.

In a moment of crisis, with a person’s life in the balance, he acted. He dove down and freed the trapped driver, bringing her up to rescue crews on the surface. As a result of Kourinos’ actions, as well as the rescue teams and those who immediately began performing CPR, the person was in stable condition at a hospital that night.

Many of us might have been immobilized. I know I would have. Not only because I have a long-standing fear of drowning (I don’t care what science says about it being a gentle death, this is my literal nightmare), but also because the entire situation was so surreal and beyond my coping scope.

My honey, who knows Kourinos from the boat mooring world, says he has always been exactly as he seems in recent media interviews – a nice guy. Kind, honest, hardworking and decent. Kourinos is not trained in rescue. He’s never drilled or rehearsed for this sort of situation, yet he didn’t even hesitate. He was just going about his business and decided to risk his life to save another.

And this is what fascinates me so profoundly.  Is it the moment that creates the hero?

I’ve been reflecting on other acts of bravery and heroism in the news of late, including some from those who have trained and drilled for it – folks who have chosen to make walking into danger their profession. In each case, it seems to me that they are all “just regular folks.” Regular folks who made a choice do something extraordinary.

Ultimately, I don’t know what makes a person choose to make the leap. I am going to have to be content with simply being thankful that I live in a world where they do.

I am thankful that Kourinos was there, and I am thankful for the rescue crews who were, too. I am thankful for all of you going about your days being kind, decent people, capable of donning that imaginary cape at a moment’s notice when the need arises. I am thankful you all are my neighbors.

Comments are not available on this story.