In light of some of the controversy over our Sherriff’s emotional but perhaps misguided and illtimed comments that Arizona has become ‘a mecca for prejudice and bigotry’ following the tragic events of this past Saturday , I feel compelled to rephrase what I hope he meant to say based on the facts of what happened that day.
There have been so many sad stories of sick individuals who for whatever reason choose to take their places in history by shooting other unarmed people, but I can’t remember hearing one that features so many examples of unflinching bravery under fire by so many citizens of one city, which happens to be situated in one state: Arizona.
As shots continue to be fired, someone takes a chair and strikes the gunman. Retired Colonel Bill Badger, after being grazed by a bullet to the back of his head, subdues the armed gunman and drives him to the ground with a chokehold. Roger Salzgeber further subdues the attacker with a knee to the neck. Then Patricia Maish, a 61 year old woman who assumes she is the next to be shot, rises above her fear and grabs the magazine from the gunman before he can reload. Roger Zamudio, just leaving a nearby store, runs TOWARDS the gunfire to help Patricia hold the gunman’s legs down.
Meanwhile, Daniel Hernandez, rather than taking cover, runs to Congresswoman Giffords to ensure she is breathing, to attend to her wounds, and then provide emotional support all the way to the hospital.
Dorwin Stoddard makes the ultimate sacrifice when he uses his body to shield his wife from a barrage of bullets. He saves her life.
Examples of bravery under fire, selfless courage, all by ARIZONANS. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the emergency medical professionals, police, firemen, helicopter pilots, doctors, nurses, surgeons, and countless other people whose names we will never know, but whose professionalism and quick selfless actions saved lives.
I can unequivocally tell my 8 year old daughter that there are real life heroes in Arizona. I take comfort in knowing I live in a state where so many are willing to sacrifice their safety, and even their lives to save and help others.
So I’ll conclude with words I think most accurately characterize our state and its selfless citizen superheros:
Arizona has become a mecca for uncommon courage.