The names of the Colorado theater shooting victims are slowly leaking out, and along with them are stories of heartache and stories of heroism. But it's the final heroic moments for three men shot to death while shielding their girlfriends during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises that really put into perspective the distance between the dark, twisted mind of alleged shooter James Holmes and the pure hearts of his victims.
Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves were just regular guys out on a date with the women who they loved. Now all three men are gone, leaving behind all three of those women to mourn them. Yes, Blunk’s girlfriend, Jansen Young; McQuinn’s girlfriend, Samantha Yowler; and Teves’ girlfriend, Amanda Lindgren all survived thanks to simple but beautiful acts of heroism by their boyfriends.
We hear words like "I'd take a bullet for him/her" spring forth from the mouths of young lovers relatively frequently. It sounds so romantic. Who wouldn't swoon at the thought of being so loved that someone would die for you.
But in real life, it isn't so simple. Just look at the dad who is being criticized for leaving his girlfriend (now fiancee) and children in the crowded theater. I don't think it's fair to judge Jamie Rohrs for choosing "flight" over fight. We simply don't know what we will do in that situation.
That's what makes these final acts of love by these three young men (the oldest was just 27) so much more powerful. Our most basic instinct is to fight to live, but these men defied nature, they did what we all talk about but few can do.
According to reports, Jon Blunk threw Jansen Young to the ground, pushing her beneath the theater seat. Then he put his body on top of her. I wasn't surprised to hear the 25-year-old was a veteran of the United States Navy. His death is horrific, not least because he leaves behind two young children, but it fits the kind of man who would serve his country with honor.
Then there was Alex Teves. The 24-year-old thought of Amanda first, throwing her to the ground to protect herself from the hail of bullets. He was headed down to the ground when he was shot. And finally, tragically, Matt McQuinn's story mirrors that of his fellow heroes. The 27-year-old pushed Samantha Yowler to the ground and laid himself on top of her. With the help of her brother Nick Yowler, who was unharmed, she got out of the theater with a shot to the knee. Her boyfriend, sadly, did not.
The horror of what happened in Aurora is inescapable. It proves evil exists in this world.
These men gave their lives so that someone else could live while another man tried to destroy the lives of hundreds. And yet, these men, these heroes, prove that good exists in this world too, and that good can triumph over evil. My heart goes out to the families of these men and to the women they left behind.
What do you think of what these men did for the women they loved?
Image via orchidgalore/Flickr