The world has lost a real Hero.

The world has lost a real Hero.

I still owe Sergeant Adam Rosenthal another Thank You note.  I sent my first letter to Delray Beach Police Chief Strianese after I completed RAD for the first time last August.  I started my thank you for the second class that ended last week but hadn’t gotten it finished when I learned of Adam Rosenthal’s tragic death on Thursday.

Even though I only saw Adam on a handful of occasions, in a short time he and his team gave me far more than I could ever repay in a Thank You.  When I heard of Adam’s death I was heartbroken for his family, his community, his city, his department, and his students.  I gave a donation to Delray Citizens for Delray Police for his family, who must somehow deal with this tremendous loss. But the reality is I could never write a check that comes close to what I owe Adam Rosenthal.  And I hardly knew him.

Arriving at work on Thursday morning, I told a coworker that I had lost a friend. My heart was breaking for Adam’s coworkers, who obviously respected and admired him; my fellow students, who were also touched by Adam; and his family, who I can only imagine are devastated.

It turns out my coworker knew Adam too, and she knew people who worked with him.  Just a week before, I had completed the RAD class for the second time.  I knew Adam personally, and while I would not have actually considered him a friend in life, it is impossible to deny his impact on my life and the lives of so many others whose lives I can imagine he touched, as he did mine.  At first it seemed that his tragic death earned him a posthumous promotion so to speak, bringing him from the level of just an Acquaintance to that of a Friend. But calling him a friend didn’t feel right.  Very often people in Adam’s position don’t have friends like most of us do.  Adam Rosenthal was immensely knowledgeable and talented and you could see his passion for sharing his knowledge and skills.  He was encouraging, supportive, and while he was friendly yet respectfully distant with his students, you could see that his coworkers and fellow RAD Instructors respected him, admired him, and trusted him with their lives.

It was then that I realized that Adam wasn’t a friend, he was a Hero.

Adam Rosenthal donated his skills and his time to help women and kids learn to defend themselves. With his skills and his network, Adam Rosenthal could have given private classes, yet he chose to do it for free, for the people who most needed it. His free martial arts programs helped countless local children. And the RAD program he ran, a program that was offered completely free by the Delray Beach Police Department and staffed by Adam and other tireless volunteers, helped women like myself learn safety, awareness, and self defense.

A Hero is often thought of as someone who saves you.  But Adam Rosenthal was a Hero’s Hero.  He was only one man, yet his legacy will carry on because in addition to being a Hero, he was also an incredible Teacher.  He and his team gave me skills and confidence, and gave me the skills to someday save myself.  And he gave others the skills to carry on in his memory.

It is up to all those of us whose lives have been touched by Adam Rosenthal to decide how to honor this man’s memory and carry on his legacy in some way, no matter how small.  He would expect and demand it of us.  And he taught us how to expect and demand it of ourselves.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Adam’s wife, children,  family and friends.  He touched so many lives, and was a hero to so many. May his family find the strength to get through the most difficult times and always remember that Adam Rosenthal was an amazing teacher.

“A teacher affects eternity; he never knows where his influence ends.”  ~Unknown

Sergeant Adam Rosenthal, who died tragically on Thursday in a car accident, will be laid to rest with full law enforcement honors.

The service will be held on February 20, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. at Congregation Kol Tikvah.  Congregation Kol Tikvah is located at 6750 N. University Dr, Parkland, FL.

Interment immediately following at Eternal Light Memorial Gardens which is located at 11520 State Road 7 (441) Boynton Beach, FL 33473.

You can support Sergeant Rosenthal’s family during this difficult time by donating to: Delray Citizens for Delray Police, 300 W. Atlantic Ave. Delray Beach, FL 33444.  Write Adam Rosenthal’s name in the memo portion of the check.