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Unsung Hero: Mr. Lim and His Yellow Vest

Joined: 1/17/2015
Posts: 1
Every morning, I met up with Sung at eight am in front of a park at our apartment complex to make the fifteen-minute walk to our elementary school together. Most of the time, we boasted about our new Yu-Gi-Oh cardsets or our new rolling backpacks to pass the time. More importantly, during baseball season, Sung and I always delved into the LG Twins or Doosan Bears matches from the previous day. Those recaps inevitably morphed into arguments over whose favorite team had the best batters, pitchers and Korean Series prospects. But, Mr. Lim, our yellow-vest-clad crossing guard, always broke the tension between Sung and me with his huge smile. Each day, from first grade until third grade when I moved to a different district, I heard Mr. Lim’s whistle shriek to stop oncoming traffic twice a day, and I gave him a perfunctory nod in response to his signature, full arm wave. Some cold days, with my head tucked in my jacket hood, I would barely acknowledge the bright yellow that flashed in my periphery as I scuttled across the street with my gaggle of classmates.

It wasn’t until nine years later that I finally took notice of the ever-friendly Mr. Lim. One afternoon a few weeks ago, I used my free period to check my favorite Korean online news sources and as I was finishing an article on the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and I noticed a link to a story on my elementary school. Intrigued, I clicked it and my jaw dropped when I saw a photo of Mr. Lim, my old crossing guard, who had been in the ICU for three months after being hit by a drunk driver one early morning. For the first time, I learned that Mr. Lim had once served as my school’s Vice Principal, and upon retirement, had volunteered to act as a crossing guard to guarantee the students’ safety at what he deemed a dangerous intersection. Even at age eighty, he was continuing to usher children from the sidewalk to the school doors for no pay, greeting everyone with his warm smile and eager wave.

I decided to send him a letter to show my appreciation for his hard work, as he had no doubt made my commute safer every single day even though I hadn’t taken notice. Reading this article and seeing the outpouring of heartfelt wishes in the comments section made me happy that this selfless man was finally receiving the recognition, appreciation and notice he deserved after decades of tireless devotion. Still, it was heartbreaking that it took a life-threatening accident to open my eyes to people like Mr. Lim, the unsung heroes of our everyday lives.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Unsung Hero essay being selected as one of our top 10 teen essays for our January writing contest.

To view all the results of our January 2015 contest, please check our winners page on or after February 28th:

Our editors are voting on the winners and we will have our results completed by Thursday.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 2:45:30 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
Our results are tallied and your essay was selected as our 3rd place essay for our January 2015 teen writing contest.

Thanks so much for sharing your story.

Congratulations and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs
Stageoflife Co-founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 6:46:29 PM
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