On the midnight of July 19th-20th,a terrible tragedy occured in Aurora, Colorado. At the midnight showing of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, a sadistic man named James Holmes stood up and opened fire on the theater audience. The massacre lasted only minutes, yet in those minutes, 12 people died, and 59 were seriously injured. But we have all heard this story. It’s old news. What many people haven’t heard (and what many news networks failed to cover) is the heroism and charity that resulted from this tragedy.
On the topic of those who are no longer with us, me must not take for granted the heroism displayed, even in the theater that night. Indeed, you may also have heard on Facebook of the four men who died protecting their girlfriends from the gunfire that night. In my mind, there is no greater love than that shown when someone gives their life to protect the life of someone they care for.
Jon Blunk, a former member of the Navy, reportedly pushed his girlfriend Jansen Young to the ground before receiving the shot that would end his life. Young told the story to reporters, saying, “Jon just took a bullet for me. He knew and threw me on the ground, and was like, ‘We have to get down and stay safe.’” She later related that she crawled over to him and tried to get him to wake up before she realized that he was dead. “I guess I didn’t really know he had passed, up until I started shaking him and saying, ‘Jon, Jon, we have to go … It’s time for us to get out of here.’”
Matt McQuinn, a man of 27, died protecting his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, and her brother when the gunfire erupted.McQuinn’s attorney said, “When the gunman started shooting, Matt and Nick… pulled Samantha to the ground and shielded her.” Nick escaped without injury, while Samantha was shot in the ankle, and Matt was shot three times, killing him almost immediately.
Alex Teves, 24, shielded his girlfriend in a valiant effort that ended with his death. He reportedly intended to hit the floor himself, once she was down, but never made it alive. He put her first. And, according to his academic advisor at the University of Denver, his “top priority was his relationships. His loyalty is admirable and he always put his friends first.” In today’s world, a lot of that is taken for granted, or overlooked. But the safety of his friends, and ultimately, his girlfriend, came before his own.
John Larimer, 27, a sailor for the Buckley Air Force Base, was killed when he was defending his girlfriend, Julia Vojtsek. She told press that he “immediately and instinctively covered me and brought me to the ground in order to protect me from any danger. Moments later, John knowingly shielded me from a spray of gunshots. It was then I believe John was hit with a bullet that would have very possibly struck me. I feel very strongly I was saved by John and his ultimate kindness.”
These four men are heroes. They died protecting the people they loved. That kind of thing isn’t seen a whole lot nowadays, and I think that it is important to honor that. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the movie theater in which this horrible shooting occurred should erect some sort of monument, in memory of the victims of the shooting, dead and alive, to help us remember that we are not without hope, and that people can be noble and brave as these men were.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, we have seen people go out of their way to reach out to the people of the Aurora community, and, in the opinion of this writer, express true heroism. A number of the people involved in the production of The Dark Knight Rises, including its director and lead actors, have commented on the incident. Director Christopher Nolan commented, “Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.” Anne Hathaway also commented, saying, “My heart aches and breaks for the lives taken and altered by this unfathomably senseless act. I am at a loss for words how to express my sorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” While these seem like produced and scripted statements (and indeed they may be), you have to give the filmmakers credit for not mentioning the impact of the shooting on ticket sales, or the public outlook on the film, which many filmmakers today may have done, were it the case for them.
But of course, we must recognize the actions of the Batman himself. Star Christian Bale has shaken up his public image a bit, with his profanity-laced outburst at a member of the light crew on the set of Terminator: Salvation. Personally, I lost some respect for him when I heard that, respect which I never thought could be earned back. But in the shadow of this massacre in Colorado, he has displayed some true heroism, going above and beyond his call as an actor. In an interview, he was reported to have said, “Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.” In recent photos released on the internet, the Dark Knight Rises star has been shown visiting the victims of the shooting who remain alive in several hospitals. He visited each of them personally, and expressed his sorrow, reminding them that someone cared and that there was hope. And when he was finished with that, he payed his respects to those 12 who had died in the shooting.
This is being a hero. Understand that, while it does make for good press, there was nothing and nobody that said that Bale had to do this. While other members of the cast and crew simply issued statements, Bale
personally showed these people kindness and charity. He actually visited the graves of those who had fallen. Not to bash or understate the importance of sympathy, prayers and “our hearts go out to” and all that, but not everyone would do this. Many people in this world wouldn’t think it necessary to pay their respects to people whom they didn’t even know. And Bale did. He went out of his way. And that, I believe, is heroism.
Another act that really resonates with me comes from another member of the Dark Knight Rises team, none other than legendary screen composer Hans Zimmer, who composed the powerful score for the film. This man would be payed millions for composing even one song for any film, and he has done masterful work in the past, with an Oscar under his belt to show it. But I must say that he has also displayed heroic affection for the victims of the shooting, as well as their families, and the Aurora community in general. Zimmer composed a piece simply titled, “Aurora,” a beautifully haunting piece that captures the emotion and essence of the tragedy, and the hope that Zimmer strives to inspire. It’s a moving, sweeping, and even heartbreaking piece. And what’s more, it is available for sale, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the victims and the families.
The song is available for download here: https://watertowermusic.moontoast.com/estore/embed/1336
Members of the American community have reached out to the victims and community of Aurora, donating a total of $2 million to the cause of helping the surviving victims heal, in conjunction with money donated by Warner Brothers Studios. With the assistance of this money, three hospitals in Denver who are caring for the victims have come out with the declaration that they are going to limit the medical bills for patients affected by the shooting, or wipe the bills out entirely, as many of the patients are without insurance and would be crippled financially due to the costs. Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said this on the matter: “Many of these people I assume will need prolonged and expensive rehabilitation after their immediate injuries are dealt with, and that seems precisely what hospitals today are less and less willing to cover out of their own funds, and no law requires that they do so, as far as I am aware.” And he is right. No law requires them to help these people. But out of charity and genuine love for the people of their community, they are doing everything they can to make sure that the victims and those affected can lead a healthy life someday.
Heroes. Nothing less. The actions displayed by these noble people have shown us that, even in the darkest of times, the light of hope, love, courage and valiance can shine through. With these events in mind, we can see that people can be good. People can care for each other and can better each others’ lives. All it takes is that courage to go the extra mile. I write this article in hopes that people may remember that message, the message that four good men died to prove, and that it may live on in their memory, and in the lives of every person who lived through that fateful night.