What makes a hero? A hero "is a person who performs extraordinary deeds for the benefit of others."
In times of tragedy, many focus on placing blame on numerous groups for what happened, while others try to help in any way they can. This past week in Orlando, 49 innocent lives were lost and as I am a typing this, 53 people are being treated for injuries. In these darkest moments, heroes have emerged.
Mr. Rogers once stated that, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Many helpers were at the scene, and did their best to save as many lives as possible. Imram Youlf, a former marine corps member and a bouncer at the club, got people out through a side-hallway door. Ray Rivera, a DJ at Pulse, helped a woman who was hiding under his DJ booth escape. Samuel Maldonado helped a woman to safety after she had been shot. Brenda Lee Marquez McCool saved her son's life while sacrificing her own.
These are just some of the names of the heroes. Police at the scene helped as well, by making sure that people got the help they needed. The media made sure that while focusing on the tragedy, they showed the heroes as well.
The Tony Awards was one of the media platforms that handled the tragedy with grace and dignity. The ceremony itself was somber while trying to keep everyone's spirits up. After the ceremony, two parts stood out for me. Lin Manual-Miranda wrote a heartfelt sonnet, dedicating it to both his wife and the victims of the Pulse shooting. The second one:
“When something bad happens we have three choices – we let it define us, we let it destroy us or we let it strengthen us. Today in Orlando we had a hideous dose of reality. I urge you to be strong… We will be with you every step of the way," said Frank Langella, as he accepted his award for Best Actor in a Play at this year's Tony Awards.
While neither actor would be classified as a hero for making these comments, both did mention the Pulse shooting when they didn't have to. They were helpers in a time when the community needed it most.
The final thing I want to mention would be the hundreds of people who went and donated blood. The Muslim community went out and donated even though it was Ramadan, (a Muslim holiday where eating is not allowed during daylight hours). People were asked to come back the next day to donate blood. By doing this, they too became helpers.
Anyone who went and donated blood was a hero. Anyone that helped others get out and to safety was a hero. The police officers at the scene were heroes, along with the medical personnel. So to the heroes/helpers: Thank you for doing the right thing, even if it meant risking your life.