It was a rough weekend for our country. It’s easy to blow sensational shootings out of proportion, but the simple fact is that innocent people died at the hands of madmen. It’s something we all hate, and even though we’ve faced it before, it’s always shocking. It always hurts.
While dealing with that hurt, we have to endure disgusting politicians who will seize the opportunity to score political points. We also have to face the aftermath of death and destruction. None of this is easy.
There’s something that can help. When you’re thinking about these terrible shootings, you find a glimmer of hope that emerged from the darkness. In the case of El Paso, that hope came from the extraordinary actions of a true hero during the shooting.
Meet Glendon Oakley Jr.
Oakley is a private, first class, in the U.S. army. Only 22 years old, he’s currently stationed at Fort Bliss. In fact, it is his duty that brought him to El Paso in the first place. He hails from a line of soldiers, and serving was pretty much always his plan.
He only recently returned from a tour in Kuwait. He’s done plenty for our country already, but when circumstances demanded a hero, he rose to the occasion without flinching.
When the shooting in an El Paso Wal-Mart started, Oakley was in another store at the adjacent mall. According to him, a kid ran into the store and said there was a shooter. Oakley had his doubts until he heard gunfire for himself.
At this point, he had to make an incredibly difficult decision. He could do the normal, logical thing and flee the gunfire, or he could put the safety of others before himself and run towards it. Credit training, a sense of duty or immeasurable strength of character, but Oakley went towards the shooting.
You see, he holds a concealed carry license, and he figured he could be the first one to engage the shooter. That was his original plan, but when made it to the kill zone, he was faced with a new decision.
He saw children stuck in a parent drop off play pen cowering and crying. With his military training, he knew the best way to get the children out of danger, and it didn’t involve engaging the shooter.
He grabbed as many kids as he could, inspiring others to do so along the way, and together they saved at least seven children from direct fire. In a very short span, Oakley demonstrated courage, adaptive thinking and resolve.
Oakley was interviewed about his brave actions. It was a master class in humility. Like many heroes who have come before him, he doesn’t see himself in that light. Instead, he explained his action in words we could all stand to hear, “All I thought of was how I would want another man to react if I had a child and I wasn’t around my child at the time.”
It’s pretty simple. It’s also humbling and inspiring. In the face of mortal peril, Oakley was able to do the right thing by trying to be a good man. It looks like the message of toxic masculinity hasn’t reached this brave soldier, and half a dozen families were spared unimaginable pain as a result. He is the living example of what happens when training, discipline and character converge.
Oakley has given us more than a story of bravery. He has set an example. What he did was so far from easy it’s hard to put into words. But, he is exactly the kind of man we need more of in this country. We should all work to promote this example and help our brothers, fathers and sons be more like this man was on the hardest day of his life.
It took less than an hour for mainstream media to spin this tragic event towards their political agenda. The things they have said and promoted are downright disgusting. We don’t have to play their game. Don’t look up the shooter’s name. Don’t read his alleged manifesto. Forget that despicable coward’s existence entirely.
Instead, focus on the amazing things we saw in the face of horror. We can lift up a case of true heroism. We can applaud the sense of community that has gripped El Paso in the wake of tragedy. We can remember that America is still full of amazing people, and sometimes, we’re at our very best in the absolute worst of times.