The world stopped on Sunday night when the worst mass shooting in US history took place in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Las Vegas is the place where people go to escape their worries and now it will never be the same. An hour before the shots rained down killing 58 people and injuring 527, the crowd assembled at the country music festival was standing and proudly singing God Bless America along with country stars Big & Rich. Concert-goers created a sea of lights as they held cell phones up and swayed along with the country rendition of the patriotic song. Then the unimaginable happened and 22,000 concertgoers ran for their lives when a sniper began shooting from the 32nd floor of the nearby high-rise Mandalay Bay hotel. Yet among the tragedy, the spirit of the American people proved once again why this country is still great.
Acts of heroism saved countless lives during the shooting, there were acts of compassion and heroics that officials say saved scores of lives. Many of those who died shielded loved ones, many courageously tended to the wounded and also lead them to safety. Off duty police officers, doctors, nurses all worked together to tend to the wounded and evacuate the crowds safely. Off duty police officers in the crowd did their best to shepherd fans to safety, even using their bodies as shields.
Reveled as one of the first to be shot was Sonny, 29, a registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, who died saving his wife. The couple had traveled from their home in Tennessee to the Route 91 Harvest Festival to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
Another hero who died was Jack Beaton, 54, from Bakersfield, California. He was at the festival with his wife Laurie, celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary. Jack lay his body on top of his wife Laurie’s to shield her from the bullets.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was on the verge of tears Monday as she recounted the heroes born out of the heartbreak. “What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could,” Sanders said, fighting back tears during the daily news briefing.
In the hours that followed crowds of donors overwhelmed blood banks in Las Vegas, so many people turned up to donate blood that Las Vegas officials are asking potential blood donors to hold off until later in the week. Las Vegas residents began lining up just hours after the attack.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for people to show their support. The fund, set up Monday by Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, has raised more than $3.1 million so far.
In the face of unspeakable evil, the people of this great nation showed an incredible capacity for love, kindness and courage.
“Nobody suffered alone. There was a lot of good people out there,” said San Diego Police Department Officer Tom McGrath. “A lot of people were heroes.”
Country singer Jason Aldean, who was performing at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night when the shooting broke out, posted on his social media a message to come together.
“Something has changed in this country and in this world lately that is scary to see. This world is becoming the kind of place that I am scared to raise my children in,” Aldean wrote. “We are all humans and we are all Americans and its time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE!”
Such a heartbreaking event may finally bring people together, it is time to stand together and respect each other. President Trump and First Lady Melania flew to Las Vegas where they visited several victims of the shooting and were surprised when a patriotic victim Thomas Gunderson, stood up to greet both of them despite his leg injury.
Las Vegas will not be the same for a long time, yet Americans are a resilient and courageous people. As flags fly at half mast and the country is mourning, may lessons be learned from this tragedy and may God Bless America and its people.