Lasting lessons in true heroism

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By Rob Witwer

Last week’s shootings at Deer Creek Middle School were an awful reminder of the events at Columbine and Platte Canyon. Yet in the midst of our concern for the two wounded students, there was also cause to celebrate the heroic actions of Dr. David Benke, a math teacher whose split-second decision to tackle the shooter undoubtedly saved lives.

Popular culture provides ubiquitous references of heroism — “Guitar Hero,” sports heroes and mythical superheroes come to mind. But the Bible offers a deeper and more enduring definition: “Greater love hath no man than this,” said Jesus, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Dr. Benke’s actions could easily have cost his own life, but he didn’t hesitate. His dedication to his craft as a teacher led him to put the lives of the children in his care ahead of his own. 

That is a hero.

It’s worth saying that Dr. Benke (and all of his colleagues) should be acknowledged for another kind of heroism, one far greater than a person might achieve with a guitar or a football. He’s also a hero because he’s a teacher.

Every day, we entrust our children into the care of teachers. They sacrifice for and love our kids, and instill in them the skills they need to succeed in the future. 

And as we now know, at least one of those teachers — and, I suspect, many, many others — would put their own lives on the line for the good of our kids.

I just want to say thanks to Dr. Benke for reminding us all what a true hero is.

Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care).”