On Friday, when the rest of the nation was out shopping or relaxing after the Thanksgiving holiday, Colorado Springs was horrified by the city’s second mass shooting in a month.
Even while the city mourned the three people who were killed in the senseless attack, and the police continued investigating the suspect and his motives — international news stories blared headlines branding the Springs as a city of intolerant, extremely religious gun freaks.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Colorado Springs is a vibrant, diverse city — a community of leaders, artisans, entrepreneurs. It’s home to thousands of nonprofits whose work touches lives around the globe. It is a city for champions, with Olympian dreams.
It’s home to sports figures and soldiers, inventors and airmen. It’s a training ground for future leaders who defend the nation in air, space and cyberspace. It’s home to men like UCCS police officer Garrett Swasey, who died rushing to the defense of others, and to women like Lt. Shaye Haver, the first woman Army Ranger.
The city is better, kinder, more compassionate than any single act — and it deserves better.
It’s the home of Compassion International, working to end poverty and hunger around the world. People here feed the rest of southern Colorado through the Care and Share Food Bank; they run food kitchens through Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army.
Colorado Springs is a vibrant, diverse city — a community of leaders, artisans, entrepreneurs.
It’s the home of the United States Olympic Committee, overseeing the aspirations of hundreds of athletes striving for the gold. Colorado Springs is home to heroes from the Army and the Air Force, where people who live here earn the nation’s highest medals for valor, including the Medal of Honor.
It’s the home of entrepreneurs like Tom Neppl who started a company in his garage and now employs hundreds; of young professionals like Jonathon Bell, who created a software solution to fundraising.
Colorado Springs is the place where Dave Csintyan strives to create a new generation of mathematicians and scientists, and Linda Weise teaches those same kids to perform in theater, music and dance.
Colorado Springs is tarnished by the actions of a few — but the actions of many can redeem the city in the eyes of the world. As people come together to work to bolster families, seek justice and recover from two mass shootings in a month, remember what makes this fine city a great place to live. The people.
The people are why national corporations like Spectranetics and Vectrus are headquartered here. Artists, writers, soldiers, inventors and entrepreneurs create a diverse group of people from around the world — all living happily in Colorado Springs.
Remember the acts of kindness, the letters, the phone calls, money raised for families — and speak out against violence, intolerance and poisonous rhetoric.
Those of us who choose to call Colorado Springs home now have a responsibility to the city and its other residents — to reclaim its reputation and to build respect, tolerance and resilience.
Those are the values of Colorado Springs that the world needs to learn — and that the rest of us already know.