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Young ‘Heroes’ Honored By Reagan

November 13, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Pennsylvania teen-ager who ran into a burning home to save her little brother and a Rhode Island girl who sought to deglamorize drug use were among six young heroes honored Friday by President Reagan.

″I’ve heard talk from some in the press, who ought to know better, that this is the ‘Me Age’ - everyone out to get his or hers,″ Reagan said during a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building that was also attended by Attorney General Edwin Meese III.

″These young people and others like them are my reply to these commentators,″ Reagan said.

Also given Young American Medals were Angel R. Guerra-Torres, 17, of Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, who developed a science fair entry to show the role of broccoli as an inhibitor of a type of cancer cell; and Linda Warsaw, 14, of Devore, Calif., who started a children’s anti-crime group.

Denise Shattuck, 17, of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., was honored for rescuing a friend from a car crash in which two others died; and Kimberlee Rush, 19, of Rockaway Township, N.J., was cited for pulling two children she was babysitting from a home that had filled with natural gas.

The recipients stood nervously behind Reagan in an auditorium as he recited their achievments. All either embraced or shook hands with the president when he handed them their awards, except Miss Rush, who kissed him on the cheek.

Miss Rush saved two young boys from gas fumes by climbing through the wreckage of a house struck by a sand truck that lost its brakes carrying a 20- ton load. ″Kimberly could have left the house,″ Reagan said. ″Instead, she crawled into the hole (left by the truck), through the gas fumes, and back up to the frightened children. Then she broke through a window to lead them out of the house.″

Also risking her own safety was Melinda Clark, 16, of Everett, Pa., who crawled back into a window of her burning house on Feb. 11, 1985, to rescue her 2-year-old brother, Justin.

Justin had not followed her when she initially climbed to safety onto a porch roof. ″I think he just got scared, so I went back,″ she said Friday. She said it happened so fast that she could not recall whether she eventually carried her brother out, or whether he went on his own.

Carla Swanson, 18, of Warwick, R.I., organized a ″Just Say No″ club at her high school. A Department of Justice press release said her anti-drug activities provoked ″unpleasant confrontations″ with fellow students.

But she said Friday: ″There wasn’t a problem with peers or friends. The media thinks something like this a lot tougher than it really is.″

The idea that there are no more heroes is akin to the ″death of God vogue,″ Reagan said.

″I seem to remember that the argument was that if God was dead, nothing anyone could do was important enough to be called heroic. Well, I’ve never believed that either God or American heroism was dead,″ he said.

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