Why we honor men like James Shaw Jr., and we need more like him.

Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. got a congratulatory call from the mayor--whom he promptly invited to church

By —— Bio and Archives--April 24, 2018

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Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr.
Sadly it was too late to save the lives of Travis Reinking’s four victims, but that should in no way detract from the courage shown by James Shaw Jr. on Sunday at that Nashville Waffle House.

When a man with a gun is threatening to shoot everyone, you generally fall back and follow his instructions. But when it appears pretty clear that he intends to shoot everyone no matter what you do, well then you have a decision to make.


The 29-year-old Shaw, an technician with AT&T, chose to engage Reinking directly with the objective of taking the weapon away from him. He succeeded, and when he had done so, Reinking fled. The carnage, tragic though it was, was over.

And while Shaw rejects the label of hero, we intend to apply it anyway – not only for what he did in that Waffle House, but for his service to God’s kingdom as well:

Shaw Jr. said he jumped toward the bathroom and the suspect shot in that direction. He said he was grazed by a bullet… As the suspect came through the door, he needed to reload, Shaw Jr. said. That’s when he said he rushed him.

“I distinctively remember thinking that he is going to have to work for this kill,” Shaw Jr. said. “I had a chance to stop him and thankfully I stopped him.”
He added: “I grabbed the gun and kept it down. He had one hand on it. I pulled it away and threw it over the bar.”

Mr. Shaw was then able to wrestle the assailant out the door of the restaurant, and the shooter then left the scene. Among other injuries, Mr. Shaw suffered burns from grabbing the hot barrel of the semiautomatic rifle.

Yet he rejects the idea that he is a hero. “It feels selfish,” Shaw said, according to the Tennessean. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it… I didn’t really fight that man to save everyone else. That might not be a popular thing to say,” he added.

After receiving a phone call from Nashville Mayor David Briley, continues the newspaper, the “hero invited Briley to the Nashville church he has attended since he was a baby.”

That’s my kind of hero. With a chance to step into the spotlight, probably with a ceremony honoring him at city hall, he instead turns the tables and asks the mayor to join him in God’s house.

By the way, let’s say a word for the whole idea of heroism. It seems it’s very common to run down the idea of being a hero, either because you think people are doing it for their own glory or just because it’s considered unwise to risk your own safety for the sake of someone else.

But what a hero does is make extraordinary effort, often at great personal risk, so that others can be safe or some other catastrophe can be avoided. Why would anyone have a problem with that? Those who do such things deserve honor for it.

Superhero films are all the rage right now. I am not a fan creatively – Hollywood is out of creative ideas and I for one could do without Marvel’s dominance of the box office – but I think part of it is that people really like the idea of heroes, although I guess it makes them more comfortable if the heroes wear capes and masks. Maybe they think that if you need super powers to be a hero, it doesn’t imply any sort of moral obligation for ordinary people to do it.

But ordinary people should do it. It’s good when they do. That’s why we honor men like James Shaw Jr., and we need more like him.


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain

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