His name was Aaron Feis. He was the school’s assistant football coach and a security guard.
His name was Scott Beigel. He was a history teacher and the cross country coach.
In a moment of terror and fear, they were heroes.
Of the many somber and angry posts that fly around the Internet after tragedies like yesterday’s Florida school shooting, the most comforting to me is always a quote from Mr. Rogers. In his inimitably calming way, he encourages us to “look for the helpers” as a way of finding something hopeful in the wake of unspeakable tragedy.
Unfortunately for us, the number of times we need to look for the helpers seems to be growing at an alarming rate. Something’s gotta give, and I don’t pretend to have any of the answers, so for now let’s concentrate on the helpers again.
This tragedy’s helpers are Aaron and Scott — and I’m sure they represent other school staff members and police officers who acted as heroically as they did, but whose stories have not yet been retweeted as widely.
These people are heroic not just for their actions, but also for their poise under pressure and their choice to combat the ultimate act of hatred — murder, with the ultimate act of love — self-sacrifice.
I’m not sure I can say how I would react in such a situation. But Scott and Aaron answered these questions in an instant, under the most extreme conditions. They chose to give their lives to save the kids around them who were entrusted to their care. Tonight, some parents are hugging their children who would otherwise have been murdered. Tonight Aaron and Scott’s families are grieving, but I hope their grief is also mixed with healthy doses of admiration and pride. On Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday, these men showed us the purest form of selfless love — laying down their own lives so that others might survive.
Even when it’s not a life or death situation, we need more helpers like Scott and Aaron, who put the needs of others above their own.
We all need to be more helpful.
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