Profiles in Courage

I’d like to discuss an act of true courage that happened this weekend in France. Before you of the “greatest generation” cry “balderdash” on me for suggesting courageous acts in France, let me preface my remarks with the fact that the acts of courage were predominately American in nature. Before I spend my day dodging Freedom Fries, let me explain the events and how they stand out as true profiles in courage. 

Three young Americans were traveling on a train from Amsterdam to Paris when they were confronted with every tourist’s worst nightmare, a nut with a gun. Now in truth, that nightmare plays out for me in a variety of settings around here since the open carry law was passed in Georgia, but we’ll discuss that another time. These young men were confronted with a life or death situation in the confined space of a train while speeding through the country side. I imagine they were just chilling, having a beverage, checking their email when all hell broke loose. As sketchy as the details are now, a French national saw the nut emerge from the toilet heavily armed and confronted the nut. Shots were fired, and the Frenchman was severely injured by a box cutter while trying to corral the nut. The Frenchman was left bleeding from a neck wound while the nut moved on. The nut moved into the next car where he walked by a British national who sprang into action after the Americans sitting in the last row of the car charged the nut and took him down. The lead American, Spencer Stone, was cut several times by the nut, almost severing his thumb in the ensuing struggle. The other two Americans, Chris Norman and Anthony Sandler struggled to get the weapons secure and then to hogtie the nut. The perpetrator had an AK47, a 9mm pistol and the box cutter. It is reported that the nut had many rounds of ammunition. We can surmise that the nut was intending to inflict severe damage in a confined space where the victims had no opportunity to escape. The nut’s lawyer has already stated that it was not an act of terrorism but a simple train robbery. We’ll see how that plays out in court.

There is a special heroism, a level of courage, that is involved in being able to sacrifice yourself in the hope that your efforts will save others. Obviously, not everyone is born with it. The fact that these three Americans sprang into action from the opposite end of a train car almost ensured that one or all would be cut down before reaching the nut. Details are unclear as to why the nut didn’t fire directly into their charge, but as far as the Americans knew, they were going into a hail of bullets. A jammed weapon, or a brain misfire by the nut, does not diminish the self sacrifice displayed by the three Americans and the Frenchman. I will leave out the Briton at this time except to say that he was there at the press conference to claim a lion’s share of the attention for his role in helping to secure an already beaten opponent. I expect the “greatest generation” readers may be nodding in acknowledgment right now.

I will finish my gush of emotion by saying that there are stories of bravery out there every day, all over the world. I wish the media would cover these acts of courage and spend more time talking about these heroes instead of subjecting us to the Kardashians. Oh well.

To the heroes of this story and their parents let me shout out a heartfelt Ooh Rah! and God’s speed.

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