In the midst of last week’s tragic violence in Aurora, Colorado which left 12 dead and 58 wounded were some stories of heroism. Those include the work of “first responders” who descended on the theater where the crime was committed, as well as the professionals who managed the alleged shooter’s booby-trapped apartment.
There are also accounts of three men who, as bullets were flying through the smoke-filled air, each acted as a human shield to protect their girlfriends. Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, Alex Teves gave gave their lives, with only a moment to react. They put themselves in harm’s way, in case a bullet came their direction. And they paid for that split-second decision with their own lives. Their sacrifice made it possible for others to live.
I don’t know enough about the personal stories of those three men, but their actions last Friday night showed a selfless devotion to and the deepest love for their girlfriends. This is a key essence of true manhood, a readiness for a man to lay down his life for those around him.
My friend Robert Lewis has spoken and written about how to shape a boy into a man by equipping him with three essential elements: a vision, a code of conduct, and a transcendent cause in which to invest his life. It seems to me that somewhere along the way, the parents of Jonathan, Matt and Alex did some investing that paid off in extraordinary ways last week. Life-lessons of character, honor, and right were ingrained, and in a moment of chaos and mayhem, spontaneous decisions were made that reflected an internal compass, an honorable code of conduct.
In laying down their lives, these men showed a commitment to something bigger than themselves. That’s a lesson I want my sons to know, and in the event of a life-or-death scenario, to emulate. It’d be the right thing to do.
By the way, if you’d like to hear some inspiring stories of other real-life men who have demonstrated courage and who lived out a life of conviction, give a listen to this radio program with Congressman Jim Ryun and his sons, Ned and Drew. They’ve captured some great accounts of some famous – and some not-so-famous – individuals who have made a difference through their actions.