Remembering the victims

Youths comfort each other at the funeral of elementary school principal Elsa Mendoza, of one of the 22 people killed in a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Mexican officials have said eight of the people killed in Saturday's attack were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Editor’s Note: “Their Way” is a regular Sunday column that captures the personal style of the many public officials and other personalities and events covered by former Mesabi Daily News Executive Editor Bill Hanna during his more than 40 years of newspaper reporting, writing and editing.

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We all, thankfully, have personal mute buttons to try to filter out ridiculous political yammering that can often reach a deafening crescendo.

Thank God I have found mine in the wake of savage shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, a week ago.

All of us have strong opinions on such horrid violence in the country. And emotions run at ultra-speed, far exceeding the speed limit of civility.

However, this is no time for political puffery, excessive exaggeration, and disgusting diatribes. Yet, such rhetoric has, unfortunately, been prolific.

There are moments in our collective lives when the sounds of politics should be silent and replaced with proper and much needed respect for victims.

This is one of those times.

The victims should not be dishonored by being leveraged and turned into political pawns.

This is not the time to be left or right; Democrat or Republican. And it’s definitely not the time for the media to fan the fiery flames of discord.

Damn the politics.

Those who died at a Walmart in El Paso and out for a good time in Dayton should be remembered and honored much more for the lives they lived than the tragic way they died.

Here are some of their stories:

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Jordan, 24, and Andre Anchondo, 23, were doing some routine shopping for school supplies at the Walmart in El Paso on a brilliantly sunny and warm day.

Andre courageously jumped in front of the crazed gunman. Jordan tried to shield their newborn son, according to Jordan’s aunt.

The child was bruised and suffered broken tiny fingers. But the family won’t be able to enjoy a newly built home. Mom and Dad were killed.

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Arturo Benavides, 60, and his wife, Patty, would usually go shopping at Walmart after church on Sundays.

But on this Saturday they decided to forgo routine and walk through the doors of Walmart in El Paso a day sooner.

Patty would be able to walk out of Walmart, but Arturo would not.

The bus driver and U.S. Army veteran was killed in the rampage.

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The family of Leo Campo, 41, and his wife Maribel Hernandez, 56, knew something had probably happened to them when a dog groomer called Maribel’s brother.

“They knew something was wrong when the groomer called and said the couple had not picked up their dog,” a television station reporter said.

Both were killed in Walmart.

“Rest in peace, hermano,” said the school board president in the district where Leo was a “great” athlete in high school.

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Saheed Saleh was a native of Sudan in Africa whose brother, Yahoo Khamis, remembers him as a “kindhearted and hard-working person.”

Saleh was one of nine people killed in a hail of gunfire by a single assailant in Dayton last weekend.

“We are here as family, no matter who we are, as the city of Dayton is a welcoming city,” Khamis said.

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Logan Turner was from the small Ohio city of Springboro. Turner was working at a machine company. President of that firm, who had met Turner when he was a server at a nearby restaurant, had heard Logan was studying engineering.

“I thought, ‘Well then we need to hire you.’ We hired him and he came over and had a great personality and became a very good associate and worked his way to the top very quickly,” recalled Greg Donson.

Turner was killed in the Dayton killing spree in the Oregon bar/restaurant entertainment district of Dayton.

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This is also a time to pause and salute the first responders who put their lives on the line trying to protect so many in El Paso and Dayton.

They immediately ran toward the shooter in Dayton and took him down before his evil actions could kill even more innocents.

First responders do not seek glory. But when put in the middle of crises everyday across the country they respond in a glorious way.

The physicians and nurses at El Paso hospitals were also heroic in their efforts to heal and save lives who were, by a sad twist of fate, ensnared in such a terrible bloody trauma.

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And on a personal note:

I worked at the El Paso Times for six months in 1983-84 after serving as city editor of the Las Cruces Sun News in New Mexico and before being hired by the Associated Press.

The people of El Paso are some of the happiest and nicest people who proudly love their families, community, and country.

The city’s population is 79.7 percent Hispanic; 14 percent white. They treated this Anglo with kind and welcoming warmth.

I hurt for a truly neat city.

And my heart aches for the victims in El Paso and Dayton and their family members who now must shoulder such unimaginable losses.

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