Lasha Morningstar


November 17, 2014

Shock racked my mind – and no doubt thousands of others – as they watched film cameras capture citizens leaning over the dying body of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

The unarmed soldier had been guarding the National War Memorial. The alleged killer moved up behind him and shot the young father.

The first shots, of course, prompted people on the street to think they really were not bullets – blanks for a movie set, a drill maybe. But the minute they saw the shooter and heard someone call 911, people knew the body lying on the ground had been hit by real bullets.

Humanity filled their hearts. They did not run for safety. They ran to the fallen man. They worked as a team with a veteran nurse telling them how to do CPR and check his pulse. A nurse and a corporal stanched the wounds. Police and ambulance were called.

Lawyer Barbara Winters knelt by the dying soldier's head and whispered in his ear. "Your family loves you. You are loved. You are a brave man," she said.

Firefighters and rescue workers carry fatally injured fire chaplain Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo.


Firefighters and rescue workers carry fatally injured fire chaplain Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo.

If there were ever words to comfort someone as they made their way to heaven, those were the ones.

But here is the crunch. Common sense says if there is danger, you hotfoot it the other way. These people did not.

Stories like this always hit the media. Often as not, the rescuer replies, "But anyone would have done it." How lovely if that were true. Too often people turn away when their fellow man or animal is in need. Why? Only they know.

Psychologists recently discovered there is a gene that prompts people to care for others, putting their own comfort – maybe even their own lives – in danger so they can help another.

When I first heard of the people running to help the fallen Cirillo, my mind flashed to Father Mychal Judge. It was when terrorists flew jetliners into the World Trade Centre. A friend ran to find the Franciscan friar. Immediately Judge dressed and ran towards the towers.

It was he and the other first responders – firefighters, police, ambulance drivers – who ran to help those trapped in the burning, crumbling buildings. Everyone else, fearing for their safety, fled.

Judge was chaplain of the New York Fire Department and cared for their spiritual needs 24/7. He loved the firefighters, and they loved him.


He dashed into the crumbling South Tower, gathered a dying fireman in his arms and administered the Last Rites. A piece of concrete fell, killing Judge. When his body was found, five men carried it out and laid it on the altar of St. Peter's Catholic Church before it was moved to the medical examiner's office.

There are a multitude of other examples of a person risking his or her life for another.

The Good Samaritan did not have to risk his life. He could easily have done as others did and passed by a beaten traveller thought to be a Jew (Samaritans and Jews were enemies).

Instead, he tended to the injured man's wounds, put him on his donkey, took a room at an inn and cared for him. He told the host to care for him and he would pay any extra cost the next time he was passing.


What would we do if we were faced with a similar situation? It makes me want to run out and take a first aid course. But we do not know what actions we would take unless put in that situation.

Jesus knew. And for that we are saved.

Remember that part about loving your brothers and sisters? I think Jesus would be mighty pleased if we did indeed take that first aid course so that if we happen on an accident, we are prepared to help the injured.

(Lasha Morningstar