Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Tale Of Two Summers

Some people are famous and some are infamous. Some simply are themselves and make a difference in a quiet manner with little fanfare. The following entry has some of both. It originally ran on August 1, 2006.

Four decades ago, Charles Whitman's name was added to the history books. On August 1, 1966, the twenty-five year old ex-Marine and Eagle Scout barricaded himself in the Texas Tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Perched high above the city and with a sniper's vantage point, Whitman picked off unsuspecting victims for roughly ninety minutes before being shot to death by several police officers. The death count at the conclusion of his rampage was fifteen, including his wife and mother who were killed earlier the same day. Thirty others were wounded. One of Whitman's targets died about five years ago. A rifle shot had destroyed his kidney, leaving him to survive for more than thirty years on dialysis. Weary of the toll the procedure was taking, David Gunby stopped his treatment and passed away in a matter of days. It is amazing to watch film clips and witness the change in television over the years, both in the camerawork and the methods of reporting. Charles Whitman, in some measure, was a precursor to the tragedy that would be Columbine. Back then, our society was more innocent and susceptible to shock. Charles Whitman helped pull back the curtain to provide a morbid glimpse into a culture swirling toward a violent future.

Let me tell you another Texas story. In the July 20 web version of The Observer, a community paper in Kingwood, we find the account of Beth Grimnes. A twenty year old life guard at a community pool, Beth resuscitated a ten year old boy who come into contact with a high voltage of electricity, jolting him into cardiac arrest. Beth, who had never even had to attempt to rescue a swimmer in her five years, performed CPR and mouth to mouth, reviving the boy and delivering him alive to the paramedics. The young man's mother credits Beth with saving her child's life and giving proper credit, proclaimed "God used her in a major way." Beth Grimnes- life saver and hero. This is one of those 'rest of the story' stories. You see, Beth Grimnes is one of my former students. In the 1999-2000 term, Beth was in my eighth grade Bible class. What an absolute jewel of a girl. Once she was helping me with an errand before first period and I introduced her to our secretary as, "my assistant, The Lovely Beth Grimnes." I started calling her LBG for short, a nickname she loved. Beth's younger sister, Katie, got mad because Beth would never tell her what the initials stood for. Katie also asked if I would give her a nickname, a request I never got around to fulfilling. The Grimnes family moved to the other side of Houston after Beth's eighth grade year and that's how she ended up in Kingwood, Texas on the afternoon of June 14, 2006. The family of Zachary Ives believes the Lord arranged for The Lovely Beth Grimnes to be sitting on the life guard chair that day. I would never argue with them.

There you have it, the tale of two Texans separated by forty years and radically different conclusions. One is infamous while the other will be remembered for all the right reasons. In Luke 6:9, Jesus was addressing a dispute over the Sabbath. The Savior asked a question that allowed only one correct reply: "Is it lawful to save life or to destroy life?" In the summer of 1966, Charles Whitman chose the latter. In the summer of 2006, Beth Grimnes opted for the former. And one ten year old boy will see his eleventh birthday because she did.

 Applicable quote of the day:
"We can't all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."
Will Rogers

God bless,
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1 comment:

Jon said...

Thats so cool you were able to teach her