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There's a stretch of the Outer Banks of North Carolina that's known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." That's because hundreds of ships have been lost there over the centuries. So it was there that something called the United States Life-Saving Service was born. They established these white frame buildings called life-saving stations every seven miles along the very treacherous coast. The Life-Saving Service was a spawning ground really for heroes. In one case, for example, a ship was in distress with four men staying alive by just holding onto a mast. Six of the seven men from the closest station went out into a storm that could very well consume them - after leaving a verbal will with the man who was left running the station. After 22 hours without food or sleep, they brought those four stranded men back alive. Incredible heroism like that was the norm for these men of the life-saving stations.
One interesting observation: never in the history of the Life-Saving Service did a drowning person ever come to the door of their station and ask to be rescued. In every single rescue, the rescuers had to leave the safety of the life-saving station, go out into the surf and the storm to keep someone from dying.