You cannot help but be deeply moved by the tragic story surrounding the latest terrorist atrocities in France, more specifically the heroism of Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame.
Confronted with a situation in which a terrorist gunman had taken several hostages in a supermarket in Trebes near Carcassonne, the soldier offered himself up in exchange for hostages, in the clear expectation that his own life would be sacrificed.
There is tragic irony in the fact that the gendarme had only last December conducted a simulation exercise centred around a supermarket scenario, though no-one could have really supposed such horror would befall the small southern commune.
Moreover, the very same priest who was supposed to officiate at Beltrame’s marriage on June 6, was instead required to deliver his last rites in hospital where he later died as a result of shot and stab wounds.
It turns out that the soldier left his mobile phone line open so the police and Special Forces could follow what was happening.
The store was eventually stormed following shots and the Jihadi terrorist killed.
Looking at the bigger picture, we are again left to wonder what insane religious zeal could lead someone to so unflinchingly desire to kill – and be killed?
In these troubled times, it seems the wonderment of words such as ‘hero’ and ‘ultimate sacrifice’ appear somewhat commonplace and inadequate.
But we are at least able to seek great inspiration from Beltrame’s actions to save lives, which essentially ask the opposite question: how great can be the bond between one man and another?
Because that question too remains unanswerable.
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