The world can indeed be a scary place. Particularly, this current world, at this current time.
We could certainly use this space to argue gun-control legislation versus the Constitutionally-provided right to bear arms, and I’m sure we’d generate a lot of conversation. Or we could talk about Russia, porn stars, subpoenas and hearings — but it would just be another case of another loudmouth offering an opinion without any real facts to back it up, and I think we can all agree there is already too much of that taking place.
Of course, there’s always Syria or Iran, immigration, our environment, a fluctuating stock market or the possibility of finding some common ground in North Korea, and all those topics seem to move the proverbial needle, or we wouldn’t be hearing so much about them every day, right? Locally, we can always get people chatting — and fighting — by bringing up development, property taxes or cable television providers.
But let’s just go for “the good” this week, and take a little time off from the negative. What do you say?
On Tuesday, April 17, as millions of Americans were trying to log on to the IRS website to finish their taxes, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, from New York to Dallas, was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after a horrendous and dramatic engine failure. Witnesses inside the plane described a horrifying scene, filled with panic and terror, as the engine exploded and a piece of shrapnel blew out a window, killing one of the 144 passengers on board and terrifying the rest, along with the five crew members.
Yeah, I know. This isn’t starting out as a happy story. Bear with me.
As the people on board of the plane were screaming and joining hands in prayer, a force of calm sat in the pilot’s seat, in the form of Tammie Jo Shults. Shults, reportedly one of the Navy’s first female pilots when women were still not allowed to fly combat missions, showed that she still had the “right stuff.” She called in to the Philadelphia airport, described the situation and received clearance to try to land the plane.
Passengers described a chaotic scene around them, as people attended to the injured woman who had been partially sucked out the window, others sent messages to family and strangers held on tightly to strangers, searching for any sense of comfort in their possible final moments.
And Shults kept flying. Air traffic controllers in Philadelphia sounded more frazzled than Shults in the recordings, according to the Chicago Tribune, and Shults apparently signed off when changing frequencies with a courteous “Good day.”
When the plane safely landed, those on board described a scene of sheer jubilation, with passengers scrambling to call their loved ones to report they made it alive.
“We were really on that plane,” said passenger Sheri Sears, per the New York Times. “It’s unbelievable we made it through that.”
Fortunately, they had an angel on their side. And she was flying the plane.
Terror struck Tennessee early Sunday, April 22, as a gunman reportedly exited his vehicle, killed two people in the parking lot of a Waffle House and then entered the restaurant, killing two more and injuring others. It was an all-too-familiar story, yet one that continues to shake us to our collective core each time.
Police said Travis Reinking would have likely killed even more people if James Shaw Jr. didn’t happen to be in the Waffle House during the shooting. According to police, Shaw rushed Reinking as he was reloading his rifle, grabbed the weapon as they wrestled and flung it over the counter to get the firearm away from Reinking’s reach. Reinking eventually fled from the scene, and was captured on Tuesday. Shaw, meanwhile, suffered a bullet-graze wound on his forearm and second-degree burns on his palm from grabbing the hot barrel on the rifle.
The father of a 4-year-old girl, Shaw adamantly claimed he was not a hero, saying he did what he did just to stay alive, though he was obviously happy other people may have been saved by his actions. He reportedly went home after getting treated at the hospital, changed his clothes and went to church with his family. He also started a GoFundMe page “to help the families of the victims.”
Sorry, Mr. Shaw. You are a hero. And a man of humility, as well. We need more of you in this world.
On Tuesday, April 24, members of the Michigan State Police were reportedly trying to help a man who was threatening to commit suicide by jumping off a highway overpass, according to FOX 2 Detroit. With both lanes closed to traffic, police decided to try to enlist some truck drivers to help their efforts.
Police reportedly lined up 13 semi trucks under the overpass so the man would have a shorter distance to fall if he were to jump. After several hours of negotiations, the man walked off the bridge and was reportedly taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Who’s the hero in this story? The police? The truckers? Who cares. This was a case of people doing “people things” and trying to help one another. They’re all heroes.
None of these actions were the result of people seeking out opportunities to become famous or to earn wealth. They happened out of humanity, and that is surely priceless.