The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Carnegie Hero Fund

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CARNEGIE HERO FUND. During 1904, through the munificence of Mr. Carnegie, a fund called the Carnegie Hero Fund was created for adequately rewarding such persons as should perform deeds of heroism which would otherwise receive no appreciation beyond a possible paragraph in a daily newspaper. Mr. Carnegie endowed the Fund with $5,000,000, the expenditure of which was to be directed by a commission of his own naming, of which Mr. Charles L. Taylor was appointed president. In his deed of trust to the commission Mr. Carnegie expressed himself as having long felt that heroes and those dependent upon them should be freed from pecuniary cares resulting from their heroism. In establishing the Fund it was his purpose to place in a somewhat better pecuniary position than before those following peaceful vocations who have been injured in heroic efforts to save human life, and, in case of their death, to provide for the widows and children as long as that should be necessary and advisable. He made the stipulation, however, that no grant was to be continued unless it were soberly and properly used and unless the recipients remained sober, respectable, well-behaved members of the community. In all cases a medal of gold, silver or bronze, according to which the deed in question was believed by the commission to call for, was to accompany each grant, and, in cases where no monetary aid was called for, an appropriate medal was in any event to be awarded, setting forth the heroic deed it commemorated. Subsequent resolutions and by-laws passed by the commission govern the operative work of the Fund, but the broad, general lines of its scope remain those which Mr. Carnegie recited. It has been widely praised for its work on all sides, and has been an incalculably powerful factor in relieving people in want whose real worth was fully revealed for the first time perhaps through their deeds of unselfish heroism.

The field embraced is the United States, the Dominion of Canada, the colony of Newfoundland and the waters thereof.

Such acts must have been performed on or after 15 April 1904 and brought to the attention of the commission by letter addressed to the manager, Oliver Building, Pittsburgh, Pa., within three years of the date of the act. Up to 1915 the commission had awarded 723 bronze, 387 silver and 18 gold medals; $1,249,656 bad been awarded for disablement benefits and for educational and other specific purposes, and for the dependents of heroes who lost their lives. Pensions in force on 31 Dec. 1915 amounted to $79,200 annually. The commission had also awarded $169,462 for the relief of sufferers from disasters; Brockton, Mass., $10,000; California earthquake, $54,462; Monongah Mines, W. Va., $35,000; Darr Mine, Pa., $25,000; Lick Branch Mine, W. Va., $10,000; McCurtain Mine, Okla., $15,000; Jed Mine, W. Va., $10,000; and for the relief of Ohio and Indiana flood sufferers, $10,000.