In September of 2001, our nation lost the twin icons known as the World Trade Center to terrorists. For a brief moment in time, our world was upside down and inside out. For a short while, the world seemed to stop turning and time itself seemed to stop. For a very short time, Yankee fans were brethren with Red Sox fans, Chiefs fans were brothers with Raiders fans, followers of the Cowboys were supportive of Redskins fans.
Even the NFL came to a grinding halt. When it resumed, our own city was host to the New York Giants, the team from that very same city that had suffered one of the most horrible of all tragedies this country has ever seen. Giants players were cheered as they took the field, symbols of America's will to go on with life. The boot was passed all over the nation in support of those who lost their lives, especially the firefighters of New York City. The following story is true, only the setting isn't New York, and the story is still fresh in the land of the 24-Hour News Cycle ...
As most of you know, I live in the Denver metropolitan area: a land of glorious sunshine, beautiful and majestic mountains, a community of creative people with an abundance of civic cultures such as museums and art, and a music scene that rivals anywhere else in the world. A few weeks ago our community was stunned as a Denver Police Officer was shot and killed by a handgun-wielding shooter at a city park jazz festival. Yes, a jazzfest was the scene of flying bullets and death, a family affair with children and adults suddenly diving for cover, a scene that unfolded so quickly noone could be prepared. But that horrific incident was a minor thing compared to last night's slowly unfolding and almost surreal mass shooting at a local mall.
The \toll? At least a dozen dead and 50 injured. At a movie theatre a gas canister was opened and shots were fired, then more shots, and more after that. Chaos. Panic. Insanity. Moviegoers became random targets for the nonsensical shooting. Bodies blocking stairwells, screaming, horrific sights and sounds. An event so outrageous, and so vast in scope that the community of Denver will take time to heal. Perhaps more time than anyone can imagine.
Football will take a back seat to the healing of wounds, and rightly so. Peyton Manning will be a side thought, the Broncos will be discussed lightly, such as the local weather, just a distraction from the events of the day, while an undercurrent of sadness remains, slowly buried under the day-to-day lives that we all live. Sooner or later the cuts will heal, the wounds that mark so many hearts will heal the best they can, and a city in mourning will move on, a slow babystep forward into the future, followed by another. Eventually the events of that fateful Thursday evening in Denver will be left behind, gone but most certainly not forgotten: merely no longer discussed.
It's a time when people of all walks of life in every corner of America stop and say to themselves: it could have been me, it could have been anyone I know ... and that's the hardest to face, one's own mortality. It's when Life is suddenly and dramatically put into perspective, and we wonder what really IS important. Football or loved ones? A game or quality time with those we love. Granted those are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but for the hard core fan, it does give one pause to reconsider priorities.
As I post this, I ask you, dear reader, to reflect on what is most dear to you, and to remember that life is often much shorter than any of us can imagine. I ask that you spend an extra minute on the phone with a loved one. Take the time to reach out to a neighbor. Be nice to someone you've never met before. And yes, for awhile at least, be nice to a Bronco fan.