Could we all please stop and take a moment to appreciate the meaningfulness of this video showing Route 91 Harvest Festival attendees, not knowing the horror about to be unleashed upon them, joining together in a profound show of patriotic unity?
Country act Big & Rich were performing as part of the Sunday night lineup at the festival. It was only an hour before madman Stephen Paddock began shooting at the crowd from across the street at the Mandalay Bay hotel. The country duo launched into “God Bless America”, and the crowd lit up their cell phones and sang right along.
— Kaya Jones (@KayaJones) October 3, 2017
You can’t help but look at the faces in the crowd and wonder about their fate. Did some of them leave before the shooting began? Did that blonde woman in the cowboy hat make it out alive? Did that man with his daughter ever know what hit him? In such a beautiful shared moment, could anyone have possibly imagined the hell that was about to take place?
What’s so profound about this video is that it shows Americans from all walks of life coming together in celebration of a shared love of country and country music. Despite what talking heads and others who’d make it political say, there were no Democrats, no Republicans, no left, no right, no black, no white; it was just a group of everyday folks who shared a love of music. They joined together to sing along with the band because, at that moment, being an American was more important than anything else.
And, of course, the stories of person helping person in the aftermath, which has been a constant refrain in recent weeks as the U.S. has faced multiple catastrophes, is the essence of being an American. We are great because we are good. We’re not perfect, and we never will be, but we cover our wife’s body with our own as shots rain down … we offer up our truck to ferry the injured to hospitals … we line up for hours to donate blood so the victims have a better chance at recovery … we do this because God has blessed America with a caring spirit.
That spirit was put to the test Sunday night, to be sure, but we passed. The video above is bittersweet – bitter because we know so many of those people died or were gravely injured, sweet because we know so many more of them gave no thought to themselves to help each other survive the unthinkable horror.
God bless America.