Another ball of hate...another chance to shine
It was just a few weeks ago that the question was posed in this very space: could you be a hero if and when unthinkable horror broke out around you?
It came in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings, back when we couldn't have imagined that our area would bear witness to a similar tragedy.
Motive doesn't matter when bullets are fired at innocents. The slugs are just as lethal, the sadness they leave behind just as searing. And, we ask ourselves the same questions each time: why, how, and could it happen again.
So, too, come the stories of incredible heroism. There is the president of the Sikh temple, Satwant Singh Kaleka, who tried to keep the gunman from advancing Sunday. He would lose his life in that struggle but there's little doubt he kept the carnage from being even worse. There are the small children who saw the shooter and ran inside to warn others, giving them a chance to find cover.
And then there's Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy who took nine slugs from the shooter as came to the aide of the wounded Sikh leader, then waved off other cops who came to his aid, urging them instead to help others. Those who know him say they aren't surprised. Those of us who don't wonder how anyone could be so selfless.
The community's response is heartwarming, from the "Wisconsin Weeps" vigil at Cathedral Square the night of the murders to the various remembrances that are dotting the area in the days since. There are funds set up for survivors and agencies coming to the aid of others affected.
We are left to wonder what this ball of hate exploded here. Wade Michael Page could've gone off anywhere, from the sound of things, his raging fire probably igniting during his time in the military and accelerating as he performed in white supremacist rock bands around the country. He could've landed anywhere, bought his gun and acted out on his rage in another place of his choosing.
For reasons he takes to the grave, Page happened here.
And so did incredible, unbelievable, unthinkable acts of bravery and compassion. Page is gone, his angry fires extinguished. Is there someone else out there like him? We can only hope not.
What we do know is that there are heroes among us, who stepped forward as unspeakable horror was unleashed on a sunlit Sunday in Oak Creek. We know we have a community that rises to such occasions with compassion, resolve and dignity.
That doesn't bring back the lost or heal the wounded. It doesn't ease the pain or relieve the sense of loss but it gives us hope and reassures us that good prevails,no matter how dark things may get.