The weekend’s horrifying shooting in Tucson brought it out again. What am I talking about? Bravery. Every so often there are stories brought to the public’s attention where ordinary citizens, in a millisecond of an instant, put themselves in danger – most of the time to protect someone else.
I’ve heard bravery described as being absolutely terrified, and yet going forth anyway. As a police officer, I took an oath that, when needed, I’d throw myself into the face of danger. I’ve done it a number of times. Oh, my acts of bravery are nothing that would make the news, but were situations where I was thinking to myself, “I don’t get paid enough to be doing…X.”
But the acts of courage I’m talking about are the ones where normal citizens in their everyday lives are thrust into jeopardy and triumph. A few examples that immediately come to mind:
The passengers on American Airlines Flight 93 on 9-11-01. These heroes fought terrorists who’d taken over the plane and were directing the flight back to Washington D.C. where, presumably, the plane would be crashed into a government building. Ultimately, the plane went down, killing all aboard. But these passengers knew of the earlier terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and died protecting their country.
Who hasn’t seen the recent shooting at a school board meeting? A Florida gunman entered the meeting, and calmly began firing shots at the members of the school board. A lone woman, standing to the side of the man, swung her purse in an attempt to dislodge the gun from the man’s hand. While her act of bravery didn’t get the man to drop the gun, the gunman was distracted and a security officer was able to shoot the suspect. The suspect then shot himself and died. How many women do you know that would confront an armed gunman with only a purse?
And while I haven’t seen or heard many news reports of the Tucson shooting, it’s my understanding that several men tackled the shooter and again, a woman, prevented the gunman from reloading his weapon with a fresh magazine.
The people I’ve talked about today displayed nerve and fearlessness that few people can or will ever have to match. They didn’t wake up that day, thinking they were going to be heroes – it just happened. These gallant folks recognized a problem and took action.
These fearless American’s, have lived the words of our National Anthem…the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Have you performed acts of bravery? Do you know someone who has? Please, share your stories.
Until next time,