By J. Russell Capps
Christian Action League
The horrible tragedy that hit Tucson, Arizona last Saturday has stunned all of us who care about our nation. Perhaps you, like most all citizens, are asking “When will it ever stop?” Until moral and spiritual values become our focus again we cannot expect things to get better. There are hardly any words to describe the awful impact that tragedy had on the families involved … that of Congresswoman Giffords who was critically injured, the Federal Judge and the beautiful little 9 year old girl who were killed, and all the others who suffered pain and loss.
Like you, I have read many, many reports related to the sad event. Former Congressman Tony Perkins, who now heads the Family Research Council, has, I believe, summed it up better than any I have read.
Here’s Perkins’ assessment:
“What was meant to be a triumphal week on Capitol Hill—a time for new leaders to bring new hope—has turned solemn, marred by unspeakable tragedy to one of the House’s own. The people’s business has been postponed by the people’s grief. A gunman, a mentally twisted 22-year old, opened fire on a crowd of innocent people that included Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s (D-Arizona) who was in Tucson for the sole purpose of meeting with constituents. In the end, she only heard from one citizen, whose message of hate and violence tears the very fabric of the American family. His was not an attack on 19 people, but an assault on the entire nation who suffers with them.
When something like this happens, it whittles away at our sense of liberty and security. But on that sunny Arizona day, freedom wasn’t the only victim, for six Americans, that morning was their last. Among them: Gabriel Zimmerman, one of Rep. Gifford’s aides, was engaged to be married; John Roll, a federal judge-who came, of all things, to thank Rep Giffords; nine year-old Christina Taylor Green, born on 9-11, had just been elected to the student council; Phyllis Schneck, a homemaker, was a 79 year-old widow with three children; Dorwin Stoddard, a retired construction worker, will be remembered for ministering to sick people through his church; and Dorothy Murray, 76, who was with her high-school sweetheart husband when she was killed.
Congresswoman Giffords, who appears to be the shooter’s main target, is ‘holding her own’, doctors say. Her survival is thanks, in large part, to the brave response of Gifford’s new intern Daniel Hernandez. After just five days on the job, Hernandez—who was trained as a nurse’s assistant—rushed to the Congresswoman’s side and helped her sit upright, putting pressure on the head wound until the emergency teams arrived. When they did, Daniel stayed by her side “making sure she knew someone was with her and she was not alone”, he said. Since the shooting people have called Hernandez a hero—a title he’s quick to shrug off. “The real heroes”, he says, “are people like Congresswoman Giffords, who have dedicated their lives to public service and helping others”.
In the days ahead, we hope for an end to some of the finger-pointing. Since the tragedy, some onlookers have tried to pin the blame for this heartbreak on certain political leaders or campaigns. “That”, Perkins says, “more than anything, puts a strain on the moral fiber of America. Nothing is more indicative of this breakdown than the response of some people, who are trying to exploit this attack for political gain. A catastrophe like this one should bring our nation together—not tear us apart. One man was responsible for this shooting–not a piece of legislation, not a political movement”. “Suggesting otherwise”, as Franklin Graham said, “before an investigation has occurred is in itself inciting hatred”.
In the end, “the gunman has something in common with all of us; he’s a fallen human being, Perkins said, “And that won’t be cured by peace rallies or kinder dialogue. The only thing that can save this man is the only thing that can save any of us; God’s grace. Today we pray for that grace for our nation. By that, I don’t mean a moment of silence. I mean earnest prayers to the Creator and Sustainer of humanity. We ask for God’s physical healing for the hurting, emotional healing for the grieving, and spiritual healing for this, a deeply conflicted America”.
I believe that Tony Perkins summed it in the most accurate way. It truly is a time for mourning … and for earnest contemplation and prayer.
One other note, we have learned that the vital medical care being formed on those injured in Tucson comes at the hands of a former special services military surgeon whose training in dealing with massive injuries on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan … training that is invaluable when dealing with tragedies such as that last Saturday in Tucson. We salute all of our military who have stood and still today do stand as protectors of our marvelous freedoms.