On the evening of October 1st, attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Country Festival gathered to hear Jason Aldean give the last performance of the three-day event. On the evening of October 1st, at least 59 people were killed and over 500 injured when a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd.
I woke up the next morning and was shocked by the news. 59 people, gone—in about ten minutes, with many others currently still in critical condition. I thought, "how could someone commit such a terrible, callous act—to rip mothers, husbands, and children from the lives of the people who loved them dearly?" I don't know what else to call it, other than tragic. It was a tragedy—regardless of your political stance, religious views—the Las Vegas shooting was a horrible tragedy.
The next few days—the entire week, really, everywhere I looked online was dominated by news about the shooting that came to light. Most stories that I came across did not end well, most were heartbreaking—most made me question my humanity in this country as a whole. The victims, some were about as old as me—they had so much life ahead of them...and then in an instant—it was all gone. How could someone be so cruel?
The week came and went, and then this past weekend it was Homecoming here at Luther. Singer/songwriter, Ben Rector, came to campus to give an acoustic performance in the Center for Faith and Life that Saturday.
As the opening musician began to play his set, I couldn't help but think about the horrific shooting in Las Vegas that had just happened, not even a week earlier. Sure, we're in Iowa at a small liberal arts school and the shooting happened at a huge music festival in the southwest region of the United States, but the base similarities were there. In both instances, people gathered together to enjoy a night of music and escape from everyday life for awhile. They probably came with friends and family—and maybe made some new friends, too.
Music brings people together in ways that not very much else can. As everyone in the Center for Faith and Life began to sing along to one of the opening singer's pieces in unison, I thought about how the attendees of the Route 91 Festival had probably done the same at the earlier performances that weekend. Maybe, during a slower song, they too had all taken out their cellphones and turned the flashlight on—lighting up the venue, as they swayed them in the air from side to side.
I watched as my roommate danced along to the music all night, so happy—not a care in the world. I imagine that the festival attendees in Vegas had similar experiences, before the unthinkable began. Had they, too, laughed, danced, and sang alongside some people that they were maybe just acquainted with—because of the music that brought them all together that night?
I stood there thinking as Ben finally came out to perform, and couldn't help but feel sadness as I processed through those thoughts and emotions. I hope that in the few moments just before 59 people were wrongly ripped away from this Earth, they laughed, sang, and danced to their heart's content—surrounded by people that made their soul happy. I hope they enjoyed time spent with old friends and made new ones, too. I hope that those who have been left behind, especially those who were there at the festival that night—I hope they can somehow move past this, even though it will probably take quite a long time.
Although I know it won't bring back those lives that have been lost, my heart truly goes out to those who have been affected by this tragedy. I cannot imagine what you are going through and will continue to go through as the days turn into months, but I hope you will find some sense of peace moving forward.