This is a stressful time of year, to be sure. The holiday season is particularly stressful for those to whom the majority of the preparations fall. It is very easy to descend into the bah, humbugs. So, do you feel the need for a bit of holiday comfort? How about a story or three about heroes among us? You're in luck.
Let's start with Jeanne Assam. Sound familiar? She does if you've watched the horrific news stories of the murders in Colorado Sunday. Two sites were targeted by gunmen voicing hatred towards Christians.
With about 7,000 people on the church campus, an armed gunman entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Co. Matthew Murray entered the east side of the church while firing his rifle. As the parishioners ran away, Assam saw him entering through the doors and took cover. She then came out of cover and yelled her identification to the gunman, "engaged him and took him down.", she said before news media yesterday for the first time. She repeatedly told him to "surrender".
How did Assam do it? She is one of 15 to 20 security people at the church. All are volunteers and some are armed if they are licensed to carry weapons. As a former police officer in downtown Minneapolis in the 1990's she was licensed to carry a weapon. She normally attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service. She was the one who advised the Senior Pastor, Brady Boyd, to beef up security after the first killings at Arvada earlier Sunday morning.
The pastor was clear when he said that the security guards are "members of the church who are screened and not mercenaries that we hire to walk around our campus to provide security", according to TheDenverChannel.com .
"God was with me,"Assam said. "I didn't think for a minute to run away."
The gunman was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Two parishioners, sisters, were killed and their father injured as they were getting into their van in the parking lot. The girls were 16 and 18 years of age. Their father, 51, received two gunshot wounds and in fair condition in the hospital Monday.
"I was praying to God that he direct me: in what to do in life, Assam said. "God made me strong." Yes, so it seems.
The second hero in the news comes to us from San Antonio, Texas. Alejandro Albarran lost part of his right leg due to an explosion in Iraq a little more than a year ago. He now is considering leaving the Army as he doesn't want the desk job he will most assuredly be assigned to now. He really doesn't want to leave Army life. So, it's his wife to the rescue. Spc. Albarran is only 20 years old. "After everything he's gone through - and he loves the Army - he kind of inspired me," said Janay Albarran. "I made him a promise that I would finish what he started." She is now Pvt. Albarran as of last Friday.
While her husband was doing physical therapy five days a week to recover his balance and strength on his prosthetic leg at Army rehab, she learned to shoot a rifle and stand in formation in boot camp, according to the AP. Her boot camp was at Fort Jackson, S.C. Their 2 year old daughter is living with a grandmother in Arizona for the time being. They were only married for 6 months when he was deployed to Iraq in August, 2006. He was injured in November 2006.
Last is a story that some find the term hero to be questionable. I haven't blogged about it as I thought of it as just a local Houston area story but I've seen it on cable news lately. The story is of Joe Horn of Pasadena, Tx. He called 911 to report a burglary to his neighbor's house on November 14. The police response was slow, during daytime hours, so Horn grabbed his 12-gauge shotgun and yelled at the two thieves to stop as they were carrying out the loot. They faced him from seven to 10 feet away and ignored his shouting to them to 'not move'. He told them he would shoot. They didn't and he did. Both of them. They're dead.
Later we learn that both are illegal immigrants from Columbia and one had previously been deported back to Columbia. Yeah, shocking, I know. The case is before a Grand Jury and another twist in the case is that the investigation has brought to light that a plainclothes Pasadena detective witnessed the whole thing from his unmarked car as he pulled up just before the shots were fired.
The race baiters are out in droves. Quanell X, the leader of the New Black Panthers Party here has led two protest marches so far and promises more if the Grand Jury doesn't indict Horn. Never mind that this is not a racial issue, it's a neighborhood security issue. Never mind that Quanell X and his posse were outnumbered during the last march, placed in front of Horn's house in his neighborhood, by people from all across the Houston area.
The dead thieves were using fake identification and are thought to be a part of a burglary ring. Keep in mind that the police that did finally turn up on the scene didn't cite Horn or arrest him. Horn claims self defense. The thieves had a crowbar but no guns. There was, however, no way for Horn to know that at the time they began to come towards him. Horn shot them as they crossed into his own yard.
Horn is white, 61 years old and no one has said anything negative about him from all reports. He has lived in the neighborhood for many years and is known as a good neighbor.
I'd be happy to have him as my neighbor.
So, at a time when it is easy to lapse into short tempers and testy moods, let's remember some everyday heroes. They are out there all across the country. All we have to do is open our eyes and ears. You'll be amazed at the stories out there.