This one's for the heroes among us (It's Caleb Engle Day)

It has been a tough couple of weeks for America with two mass shooting incidents in a row. In the first incident, the Nashville church shooting, we have only the first indications of a possible motive. In the second, the deadliest shooting in recent history, the motive is still unknown. But in the midst of this bloodshed, there were acts of real heroism that took place. If not for some ordinary people who stepped forward in extraordinary circumstances, both of these incidents could have been even worse.


For instance, 22-year-old Robert “Caleb” Engle has been universally acknowledged as saving many lives by standing up to the gunman who entered his small church in Nashville last week. Engle was pistol-whipped and suffered injuries to his head and shoulder, but in the scuffle the gunman shot himself. Engle then ran outside, got his own gun from his car and, with blood streaming from his head, held it on the shooter until police arrived. Yesterday, to honor his heroism the mayor of Engle’s hometown pronounced today, October 4th, “Caleb Engle Day.” From News Channel 5:

In front of his family, city, county and state leaders, Mayor Dennis Waldron proclaimed Oct. 4th as “Caleb Engle Day” in La Vergne.

“We’re proud of him and we want to recognize what he’s done,” said Mayor Waldron. “In my eyes, he’s our hero.”…

Engle didn’t address the crowd after receiving a certificate from the Mayor. He also opted not to talk with reporters. He previously has said he doesn’t consider himself a hero…

“I don’t think he wants to be a hero,” said Jamie Engle, Caleb’s dad. “He was doing what any law abiding citizen would do.”


Guys like this never consider themselves heroes and I think that’s mostly genuine, not some kind of false modesty. These are people who try to do the right thing day in and day out and so when it happens that, on one particular day, that meant saving lives at the risk of their own life, the rest of us see something unique while the people close to them just see the continuity with who they are. They stand up every day, it’s just that on this particular day it mattered more than most.

Case in point, 30-year-old Jonathan Smith. Smith was attending the concert in Las Vegas last Sunday. When the shooting started he tried to get his three nieces out of the line of fire and then he stopped to help about two dozen more people, some of whom had been caught in the stampede of terrified people. From Today:

Smith told TODAY’s Miguel Almaguer that his initial intent was simply to push his three nieces — ages 17, 18 and 21 — to safety.

“Honestly, that was my main intention, was just to get them out of there,” he said.

Once they were in the clear, something made Smith turn back around.

“Why? Honestly, I don’t know,” he said.

Smith kept helping other people until something knocked him to the ground and he realized he’d been shot. The bullet fractured his collarbone.


Like Caleb Engle, Smith seems embarrassed by the attention he’s getting. “Everyone’s saying, dude you’re a hero, you’re this. I’m not a hero.” Which, again, is what these guys always say.

Smith wasn’t the only person willing to take a bullet for people he didn’t know last Sunday. From CNN:

Amy McAslin and roommate Krystal Goddard dived under a table as gunfire rained down on fellow concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Eventually, McAslin realized she was being shielded by someone who’d just been shot.

“A gentleman — I don’t know his name — he completely covered me,” McAslin told CNN. “He covered my face. He said, ‘I’ve got you.’

“Just truly incredible, (a) stranger, jumping over me to protect me.”…

McAslin’s white shirt was stained by the man’s blood. Neither knows his name or how he is doing.

The man eventually got medical attention, but McAslin still doesn’t know his name or what happened to him. Clearly, this was a man who, even after he was seriously injured, was going to do what he could to protect others. I’m sure if they do find him, he’ll say he’s not a hero. It’s what they do.

We’ve seen some horrible crimes take place in the past couple weeks but in the midst of that, we’ve also seen some courageous people risking their own lives to help others. The people who do these things don’t go looking for attention but we should give them some anyway. If you know one of these ordinary heroes tell them thanks, and when they claim it was nothing offer to buy them a drink for Caleb Engle day because that really is something worth celebrating.


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