“The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them.”- St. Thomas More
The news that woke up the world on June 12 at 2AM. A terrorist named Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With a record of 49 fatalities, this has been touted as the deadliest in American history.
But out of crisis, heroes emerge. And here are their stories.
Saturday night was Christopher Hansen’s first time at the Pulse. He was ordering a drink when the shooting started. He instantly fell on his hands and knees and was able to crawl his way out. But the scene outside the club was beyond his worst nightmare. “There was blood, blood everywhere.” He was able to help a club bartender and a young female patron, who both sustained gunshots. His father, Bill, took to Facebook after the incident saying, “A hero! I am so proud of my son. Both as a man, and as a gay man. I love you so much!”
From a situation of hate and rejection blooms love, acceptance, and pride.
Joshua is a nursing student and he was able to use this background to save the life of Rodney Sumter, another bartender at the club. Josh was hiding under a car when he heard the gunshots. But then he saw Rodney who was bleeding profusely. He fashioned a tourniquet out of both their shirts and kept the man conscious until the police came. Joshua recalls telling Rodney that night, “I don’t know if you’re religious or not, but I’ll say a prayer with you…I promise you, God’s got this. You’ll be OK.” Joshua later posts his reflection on Facebook, “I felt God put me at the club and made me stay behind to help a complete stranger. For whatever reason that may be. I don’t know, but I do know it was hopefully to save his life. May God be with us all in this time of need.”
Ray, who goes by the name of DJ Infinite, was the spinner that night. He was already playing mellow reggae music, signaling that it was time to call it a night when the gunshots erupted. When he heard the gunshots, he ducked under his booth and pulled a man and a woman with him. They were eventually able to make it out alive.
Edward, 34 years old, was shot in the back pushing his boyfriend to safety. You can say that he dodged the bullet for his boyfriend. He later died in the hospital.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Edward worked as a brand ambassador for an LGBT travel agency. His boss recalls that whenever Edward was warned of the risks of traveling as a gay man, Edward would always say, “We cannot be afraid.” As if saying, we cannot let terror reign.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
As the days unfold, so do more stories of heroism. Here are some that were not captured in the video.
Samuel and his partner were selling fritters at the nightclub. They had a table set up, which was covered with a black tablecloth. They hid under it when the shots rang out. Samuel was able to pull a wounded young lady under the table just as Mateen went back to aim at people who had already been shot.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool
Brenda was dancing with her son Isaiah when she came face-to-face with the gunman. She then pushed his son away so he can escape and survive. Unfortunately, Brenda didn’t make it.
Clearly a story of a mother’s love.
Imran is a former US Marine who served in Afghanistan. He was the bouncer at the club the night of the shooting. By unlocking a door, he was able to lead 70 people out to safety. But in an interview, Imran could not fight back his tears as he said, “I wish I could have saved more to be honest. There are a lot of people that are dead…there are a lot of people that are dead.” He would later post on Facebook that “it is now time to recover and build each other to be even stronger than ever.”
For sure, there are many more unsung heroes in that incident including the thousands of blood donors and crowdfunding donors.
One man sowing hate versus countless heroes. Love wins in the end. Because triumph is always born out of tragedy. Just think that if these people did not think beyond themselves during that situation, what could the fatality count be?
President Obama comforted the people in his address, “As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts – friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives. In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.”
For just as a cracked lamp receives and reflects light, so do these heroes show a little of God’s light and love in a world of hate.
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