One week ago, Colorado discovered that its suffering in 2012 would not be limited to devastating wildfires.
We also learned that even though Colorado is home to a very deranged and sick individual, it is also home to thousands of caring and brave people whose stories have amazed all of us.
As Colorado begins its collective recovery from our latest tragedy, I think we are also learning something special about the strength and compassion of our fellow citizens.
The last seven days have shown that Coloradans are resilient and our community has its priorities in order since we have concentrated on the victims and survivors, rather than spending all of our time focusing on the perpetrator of this tragedy.
The consistent and steady stream of visitors to the memorial in Aurora has shown that this was not simply a tragedy for Aurora, this was an incident that our entire community has taken on as its collective wound to recover from.
We have also learned more about the community of Aurora. While it is one of Colorado’s largest cities, before this tragedy, it was often overshadowed by Denver.
But Aurora has shown itself to have a very tight knit community among a sprawling city. It is also showing the world the strength of its leaders, specifically Mayor Steve Hogan and Police Chief Dan Oates. Both have excelled under the glare of an international spotlight under the most difficult circumstances.
I am confident that both the city of Aurora and its leaders would rather to have remained out of the spotlight than to endure the tragedy that befell them one week ago. But as they were thrust into the spotlight, they have impressed both those previously familiar with them and total strangers alike.
We have also learned a lot about Gov. John Hickenlooper in the last week. He has been known as a talented politician for many years now, but he has usually been able to succeed under favorable, or at least non-tragic times.
This week added an entirely new chapter to a summer that has already been a volatile test for Hickenlooper, with his comments and presence being played out on a national stage.
Handling the crushing press during a disaster is not always easy. Former Governor Bill Owens took some criticism in 2002 when during the Hayman Fire, he announced on national television that “all of Colorado was burning”. While his comments were somewhat taken out of context, the comments nonetheless increased the panic level instead of bringing it lower.
In contrast, Governor John Hickenlooper calmed nerves during fires that burned more houses than any other fires in Colorado history and then earlier this week, received a standing ovation from his announcement at the Sunday Prayer Vigil that he would not say the suspect’s name.
I realize those are different situations, but I think it is telling that Hickenlooper is getting a great deal of credit for leading during various crises this summer, having a very human voice without being sucked into petty political squabbles, especially during this week.
It has indeed been a week where we have learned a great deal. Colorado has learned about the depths of shock and sadness, but also the pride in our collective compassion and strength.
I pray that we are not tested again soon, but at the very least, the people of the Centennial State can look themselves in the mirror and proudly say that when we encounter the most difficult of times, we will respond with our finest actions and spirit.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.