"The Good Guys With Guns": America's Forgotten First Responders

"The Good Guys With Guns": America's Forgotten First Responders

Out of every disaster come tales of heroism.

When Jonnie Langendorff returned from breakfast on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 5th, he stumbled into the fight of a lifetime.

Driving past the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, he saw something very, very wrong. A pearl-colored Ford Explorer was pulled sideways in front of the church, driver’s door ajar, engine running. A man holding a rifle stood before the vehicle, exchanging shots with a black-clad man walking from the church.

Langendorff sprang into action as the shooter leaped into the car and sped off. The man with the rifle, Stephen Willeford, ran up to Langendorff’s truck and briefed him on what was happening. The two men were strangers. Langendorff said, “Get in.”

The two men chased after the shooter down the highway, engaging him in a high-speed chase until the shooter ran off the road and careened into a ditch. Langendorff and Willeford got out slowly, ordering the shooter to get out of his car, but they got no response. He was already dead.

An autopsy later confirmed that the shooter, David Kelley, had been shot twice before shooting himself in the head. It is suspected that these two earlier shots came from his confrontation with Willeford.

Willeford and Langendorff, two ordinary, gun-owning Texans, became heroes in this instant. Willeford, a local NRA instructor, who lived nearby and heard the shots, decided to come help. Langendorff, another local resident, was just driving by when he sprang into action. To these men, jumping into the fray seemed like a simple calculation.

“I’m no hero,” Willeford told the news later. But he is. Had he, with Langendorff's help, not forced the man to flee, more lives would have inevitably been lost.

In the last year, the number of mass shootings and terrorist attacks has climbed steadily, spreading devastation and loss across the country. Time and time again, our country grieves and attempts to move on as normal, with only the sadness lingering. The light that comes from these events, the stories of heroism and humanity, are the first things to fade from our minds.

First responders are the unsung heroes of the disasters our country has weathered. Whether these men are trained, or, in the case of the Texas shooting, simply concerned and well-informed citizens, they save lives. When heroes were needed, many answered the call, like off-duty firefighter Travis Haldeman, who was in the crowd with his wife the night of the recent Las Vegas shooting. When the gunfire stopped the music, he kept calm, ushering people out of the line of fire.

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, first responders swarmed to the scene, attempting to save lives even as bullets continued to rain down into the crowd. Off-duty firefighters rushed into the fray, offering first aid and evacuating the injured. Security guards and police officers acted on “instinct”, trusting that their training would guide them. These heroes remind us that, even in the wake of disasters, this country will not bow. Our people will not turn their backs on those in need.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Arizona Teachers Are Officially Walking Out, And Us Students Are Right Behind You.

Teachers aren't alone in this demand for action, and we are ready to support them by all means necessary.

A little while ago, my teachers started wearing Red on Wednesday’s. Little did I know, that was the beginning of making history.

For the last few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of standing by my teacher’s sides every Wednesday morning to demand change. But now, it’s even more real.

When I first got word of a potential walkout, I honestly didn’t think much of it. I don’t think any student did. We all thought that a walk in would make a change happen.

On Wednesday, April 18th, an overwhelming 78% of Arizona Teachers voted yes to walking out of school until demands were met.

And now, on Thursday, April 26th, it begins.

School was canceled. No one knows what will happen. No one knows when everything will go back to normal.

But as a student, I couldn’t be more honored to be taught by so many miraculous people who are making history.

I’ve seen and heard countless reactions to the walkout from different students. Some are worried about Graduation, some are worried about AP Testing, and some really just don’t want to stay longer than the original calendar entails.

But, it’s just one year.

I don’t care if I have to stay an extra day, week, or however long is required. I don’t care if I graduate on Friday instead of Thursday. I don’t care if I don’t receive my actual diploma at my Graduation Ceremony until the missed days are made up.

It’s worth it. Little bumps in the road are nothing compared to the reward this walkout demands.

If nothing changes for teachers and schools in Arizona, then who are we to say that there will even be teachers to come in the long run?

When I was first exploring degree options, one of my first interests was Elementary Education. But that interest was short lived because I knew that the pay I would receive just wouldn’t be enough. Students like me have seen our teachers struggle for so many years, so do you really think anyone who even decides to major in Education will plan to stay in Arizona with the pay teachers receive now? No.

Not only are the teachers in Arizona walking out for themselves, but they’re walking out for the new teachers to follow who deserve better.

Us students are proud, our parents are proud, our friends and co workers are proud. Teachers are not alone. They have a strong force standing right behind them. And we will continue to stand behind them for however long it takes for things to finally change.

Cover Image Credit: Associated Press / YouTube

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