Only in America: Someone again surprised and courageously charged the shooter
There's a certain kind of courage that seems to happen particularly among Americans.
We read it again now: in the horrific Capital Gazette newsroom shooting in Baltimore, writer Wendi Winters, aged 65, stunned her fellow co-workers and the gun-wielding man attempting to massacre the newsroom by standing up and charging him as if she were going after a rabid dog, saving half a dozen lives. It came at the cost of her own. According to the Baltimore Sun:
Winters charged forward holding a trash can and recycling bin, said Cooley, a sales consultant. Winters shouted something like, "No! You stop that!" or "You get out of here!" like she was warding off an unwanted dog.
"She may have distracted him enough that he forgot about me because I definitely stood up and was looking at the door," Cooley said. "I'm sure he wasn't expecting ... anyone to charge him."
Winters' colleagues agree she saved their lives. Of the 11 employees in the office during the attack, six survived.
Wow. Just wow. Would that every workplace in America had a person like that – amazing, because she was not the sort of person you'd expect in the heroic role. She was a 65-year-old woman best known for her fine feature writing, her listening skills, her life as a mom, her community involvement with the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts, her church-lady activities, and her adventures with kids. Cripes, she wrote a column called "Teen of the Week." That's how she was remembered in one of the first pieces that came out about her.
Unbeknownst to anyone, she was actually a Titan or an Amazon in disguise.
And now she's in the same pantheon of Americans as Todd Beamer, whose last words, charging a pack of filthy terrorists, were "Let's roll!"
She's also in the same league with the three young Americans on a French train in Belgium who charged a nest of terrorists with next to nothing, thwarting a mass terror attack and saving hundreds of people: Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler. Her sacrifice was even greater.
What an amazing culture we Americans have that we have such lion-heart people to confront so many vicious attackers right in the act. So many angels among us.
I am struggling to think of any other examples of this seen elsewhere in the world. We know that courage is not foreign to people in other countries – we see it often in Europe, for one thing. Think of Fabrizio Quattrochi of Italy, who confronted the terrorists in the act of shooting him, refusing to yield, or Arnaud Beltrame, the French policeman who put his life on the line and lost it in a terrorist hostage exchange not long ago. Think of the courage of the kindly priest, Jacques Hamel, in France who was massacred at Mass by terrorists he'd been kind to. Think of the courage of Maria Corina Machado of Venezuela, who continually stands up to the vicious regime despite continuous threats against her. Think of the Thai SEALs embarking on their terrifying rescue mission in the black watery caves right this moment.
But this is a particular kind of courage, the raw courage to confront attackers. We rarely if ever see it anywhere else. What we are seeing is something uniquely American, a patriotic spirit, a spirit of free people, who still have the gumption to stand up to those who would end that freedom.
Free people do this. We can only hope that Wendi Winters gets the recognition and cultural affirmation she deserves, as an example to all people. Her act was so quintessentially American.