What Happens In Vegas

Today when I went out to do my steps, it was after seeing President Trump speak at the Las Vegas Police Department in the aftermath of that city’s unspeakable atrocity.  My heart was heavy when I went outside, and even though the autumn sun was shining brightly, I found no solace in it.  And then I remembered a song by Glen Campbell, may he rest in peace.  I’m sure that if I wrote the lyrics into this blog, someone would come chasing after me to let me know that I had violated a copyright.  So I’m not copying down the words to Let Me Be A Little Kinder, but I’m including a link:  Let Me Be A Little Bit Kinder lyrics.

And as I walked and hummed and worked my way back through those simple lyrics, I remembered a kinder gentler time when we spent our evenings watching variety shows on our old black and white TV sets.  Back then Glen Campbell’s music was always … well  … Gentle on My Mind.  In those days there wasn’t a relentless twenty-four hour news cycle with people from one side of the fence or the other yelling at one another and absolutely refusing to see any validity in the other person’s point of view.

And so, walking and singing, I found myself thinking about those thousands of concert goers, standing as one with their phone flashlights pointed skyward and with their voices raised together singing God Bless America!  At the time they sang those words, none of them had any inkling of the tragedy that would befall them little more than an hour.

Those people were truly innocents at the slaughter.  And yet, in the ungodly reign of terror that followed, ordinary men and women showed extraordinary courage.  They put themselves in harm’s way, saving loved ones and saving complete strangers.  They lifted a wheelchair bound woman down from a raised dais where she would surely have died.  They lifted one another over fences; dragged people to safety; loaded people into cars and trucks to take them to hospitals, all the while binding wounds, supplying first aid, and giving comfort.

And the cops!  Oh my, oh my as Detective Joe Kenda would say.  They went into the face of death when others were fleeing for their lives. There were no safe spaces for them, and they stood their ground.  They guided victims to safety.  For the people trapped in that killing field, the ordeal of death and destruction must have lasted forever, but it was only ELEVEN minutes from the time the first shots were fired before police officers broke into the room and found the shooter dead by his own hand.  ELEVEN MINUTES!!  And how did they locate him that fast?  They were aided by alert people on the ground who helped triangulate and identify his exact location.

It is difficult to fathom such evil.  My heart aches for the people who have lost loved ones forever and for patients still in hospitals dealing with life changing injuries.  I hurt for the people who, on a seemingly carefree night of music and fun, were caught up in that horrific nightmare where, out of nowhere, the person seated next to them suddenly took a bullet in his head.  Those scenes will be forever etched in survivors’ hearts and minds.  They will never go away.

President Trump said that, as a nation, we’ll all be dealing with the aftermath of this event for a very long time, but for the people who were there on the ground—the survivors; the first responders; the cops; the crime scene investigators; the overwhelmed doctors and nurses at the hospitals—those folks will be carrying the bulk of this burden for the remainder of their lives.

The point of terrorism is to terrify us—to get us to go home, lock the door, hide in the closet, climb under the bed, and stay there.  Terrorists want us to forget about doing the things we love to do or being the people we want to be.  They want us to be afraid.

Let’s not let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas.  Let’s honor the courage of those ordinary but utterly amazing folks on the ground—the ones who reached out to help others in need, putting their own lives on the line in the process.  Let’s rejoice that they stood up in the face of terrible evil and did what had to be done.  Let’s remember those incredibly brave people every single day.

And while we’re at it? Yes, let’s all be a little kinder.