“Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.” -Ronald Reagan
On July 20th, during the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, a madman ravaged a movie theatre and killed 12 innocent moviegoers and wounded 58.
Immediately our world began to rage: Who was to blame? Were guns at fault, or Hollywood, or the unsecured exit door at the movie theatre, or Atheism, or Christianity, or was this simply the horrific actions of a psychopath? The chaos that followed this heartbreaking event was epic. It was as though our collective grief for the victims and their families was quickly overshadowed by the inevitable politics that often springs from tragedy. I believe it was Rahm Emanuel who said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Well. . . it seems as though every pro/anti gun control advocate and talking head volleyed for the spotlight. . .and won.
Until now. . .
As if scripted by Hollywood herself, the stories of selfless heroism have begun to rise from the ashes and introduce us all to the (up until now) unsung heroes of that fatal night.
Blunk selflessly pushed his friend, Jansen Young, to the ground and threw his body on top of hers when the gunfire erupted. Blunk served eight years in the Navy and was in the process of re-enlisting in hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL. Jon was killed in action; his friend survived.
“He kind of pushed me in under the seat and pushed on me real hard and he was like laying up against me… and I was like oh my gosh, I think Jon just took a bullet for me,” Young said during an interview on The Today Show Friday.
Blunk’s wife, Chantel Blunk, said his sacrifice comes as no surprise and was quoted as saying,
“He always said if he was ever going to die he wanted it to be in battle and he wanted to be known as a hero to his kids.”
Meet hero, Alex Teves.
The 24 year old dove on top of his girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren, and absorbed the relentless rounds of bullets. She survived the massacre; he did not. Lindgren said,
“It’s like Alex didn’t even hesitate. Because I sat there for a minute, not knowing what was going on, and he held me down and he covered my head and he said, ‘Shh stay down. It’s ok. Shh just stay down.’ So I did… He was my angel that night, but he was my angel every day I knew him… I’m broken.”
“My other half was just ripped apart from me and so for me it’s still unreal. I can’t picture my life without him. How do you? When someone loves you that much and you love somebody that much…how do you believe that this is real? And of all places. We were in that theater, that specific room. We were just supposed to watch a movie.”
Meet hero, Matt McQuinn.
The 27 year old threw his body in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, shielding her from a seemingly endless barage of shooting. Yowler survived with a gunshot wound to the knee, while McQuinn’s body absorbed the fatal shots.
McQuinn’s stepfather, David Jackson, told the Dayton Daily News that McQuinn was a hero.
“Him and Sam were very much in love and planning their life together… it’s not surprising to me that his first thought would be her. That’s what a man does. He protects his loved ones. I’m very proud of him. I’m going to miss him,” Jackson said.
“He was probably scared, terrified,” said Jackson. “I just can’t imagine what would be going through his mind except saving Sam. I’m sure from his actions that he didn’t put anything except for her first. Other than that, how could you not be terrified in a situation like that? I just hope it was quick.”
Meet hero, John Larimer.
The 27 year old Navy intelligence officer was killed while shielding his girlfriend, Julia Voijtsek, from gunfire.
“John knowingly shielded me from a spray of gunshots,” Voijtsek said in a statement. “It was then I believe John was hit with a bullet that would have very possibly struck me. I feel very strongly I was saved by John and his ultimate kindness.”
Adam Kavalauskas, 26, who described himself as Larimer’s best friend and former college roommate, joined Vojtsek at her home Monday. He also issued a statement about Larimer, saying that his friend was “always serving others” and was “never selfish.”
“His pride for his country was both endless and fearless,” Kavalauskas said. “He was a gentle soldier. This country, and in my opinion, the world, needs to know just how John lived his tragically shortened life. Fun-loving and gracious on the outside, proud and self-sacrificing on the inside.
“He never made it a flashy point when he did something good; he simply assumed that doing what is right is what we ought to do.”
Meet hero, Christian Bale – the man behind the mask.
In an act of humble respect and gentle kindness that is all too often rare for Hollywood’s elite, “The Dark Knight Rises” star traveled to Aurora to visit survivors of the mass shooting; spending a significant amount of time at The Medical Center of Aurora and paying his respects at the memorial erected near the movie theater.
Bale released a statement following the shooting:
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them”
Bale didn’t speak to the press during the somber visit with his wife.