VIDEO: Recovering from gunshot wound to the leg, Vegas survivor insists on standing to greet Trump

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday October 09th, 2017


No taking a knee here.

I don't even know if Thomas Gunderson is a political supporter of President Trump. Maybe he is - and he sounds like the kind of guy who might be - but he doesn't say, and that's kind of the point. He understands that respect for your country is not conditional on the absence of grievances, or agreement on all points. If we withhold signs of respect until everything is exactly the way we want it, then we'll never show respect at all because we'll be demanding an unachievable ideal.

That's exactly the opposite of how respect works. You show it for the president - and not just for the office, but for the man who holds it - simply because he holds it.

If Barack Obama had walked into my home or some other place where I was present, I would have stood and greeted him, and showed him respect. Because he was the president and for no other reason. If you read me at all you know I have almost no use for the man whatsoever. Doesn't matter. As long as he was the president I would have afforded him respect because he was entitled to it.

Of course, that's easy to say when you haven't been recently shot in the leg. Gunderson had, but he wasn't about to let that deter him:

By the way, Gunderson wasn't merely a victim. He was one of the heroes. Before he took his own bullet, he was helping to get others to safety:

In the early moments of the Las Vegas massacre Thomas joined other concert-goers to evacuate people to safety.

"There were a lot of people helping and risking their lives for others," Thomas told me in a telephone interview.  

In the midst of the chaos and carnage, Thomas kept wondering if what was happening was really happening.

"We heard the rounds going off but we kept thinking, it's fake, it's fake," he said. 

A split second later, a bullet plunged into Thomas' leg. 

"I went straight to the ground. It didn't hurt. My body numbed up," he told me. "I was covered in a pool of blood -- it was shooting out. It was literally everywhere."

Thomas said he dragged himself behind a row of bleachers.

"I was getting scared at that point," he said. "I thought I might bleed out."

In a matter of minutes, two young women came upon Thomas and administered life-saving first aid. One of the women wrapped a belt around his leg, while the other got some men to carry him to safety. 

So having considered the example of Thomas Gunderson, let's now consider the example of the anthem-kneelers. Why do they refuse to stand? Because, they say, they won't show respect to a country that allows racist police to brutalize black people. Aside from the fact that that's not true, it establishes a precent we don't want to follow, which is that we only show respect for the country when nothing is wrong, or when we don't disagree with anything, or when we don't have any serious grievance.

Go down that road, and it's won't just be shows of respect that are jeopardized. It will all genuine respect, and soon the notion that we're unified by anything whatsoever.

Follow Thomas Gunderson's example, or follow the example of the anthem kneelers. That's an easy choice, especially if you're one of those people who bitch about how we're not unified. Because if unity is what you want, then start by joining with those who are willing to show respect for the country - our one common bond - even as we disagree on the particulars and work to solve problems.

If you can't do that, then the lack of unity is 100 percent on you.


Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!