One year ago tonight, Las Vegas Nevada shocked the world. Not only because of a lone gunman decided to rain hell down upon an unsuspecting crowd of concert goers, but Las Vegas showed the world that real people who care, lives here. Fifty-eight souls were lost and hundreds were injured. What the news media did not tell you was that Vegas worked like it was supposed to and better. It also gave me a reason to love the town I call home, again.
When you live here for a while, you start to get an edge against the city that employs you. You get this anger about what is “Las Vegas” and who is “Las Vegas”. The tourist corridor is something we who live here tend to avoid unless we have to work it and it becomes this thing we have to work around to really enjoy the lifestyle here. What most people think is Las Vegas is filled with strange people from all over the world coming to one spot to do what they can’t do at home, then they leave again.
As a frontier town, you have to get into a different mindset to succeed living here. The rules of life are different here. We are a 24-hour town filled with transients. people looking for a new start. People who want to get out of the cold (me!) and people looking to run away from their current life, hoping the desert will let them clean their soul and start a new life for them here.
We have people from all walks of life and all backgrounds coming here. The neighbor who moved in next door, you swear was just unpacking when you see another U-Haul in the driveway. They could not survive another day in Las Vegas and are leaving before you ever met them. That’s Vegas. It’s not what you think it is and yet its everything you hoped it would be and more.
01 October Changed Everything
For me, it was the following morning that I realized Las Vegas changed. I changed, again. I lived through the silent skies brought about by the September 11, 2001 attacks on America. I survived the death call to Las Vegas by a sitting president in 2009 and the International Markets crashing that killed the seemingly endless booming Las Vegas economy. I don’t know how, but I am still here and still not wanting to shovel snow!
The way I look at Las Vegas now is not how I looked at it the night before. After the tragic event, I saw people stand up, open their hearts, their wallets, their homes and whatever else they had to offer, they offered. Regardless of the consequences, they were there to help. People who probably minutes ago where getting ready for sleep or maybe starting a new shift at work. They stopped and went the other way. They went to help without question. They just did it.
Maybe for other towns, this may seem normal, but as I said, Vegas is not a normal town. Vegas can be a cold town to newcomers and even for long-timers. Ask anybody who recently moved here and they will most likely say that they found this town to be a cold, lonely place to live and to work.
That’s not what I saw after October 1. Especially when you think that 97% of the people at the Route 91 Festival were not residents of southern Nevada. These were absolutely complete strangers helping strangers in need.
Leaders Hid, Citizens Stepped Up
As the city leaders tried to make sudden sense of it all, and the people we counted on (and pay them a lot of money) to protect the “Las Vegas” brand, abandoned us; a few people took the bull by the horns and stepped up to the plate to become the leaders we knew they could be.
First up was the Las Vegas METRO Sheriff, Joe Lombardo. He proved why we recently elected him. Being very point blank, very real and honest with what he had to tell us and tell the media. If he had no news, he had no news. Don’t ask stupid questions or try to worm a different answer out of the question. Facts only and stay away from the crime scenes, please!
Clark County commissioner chairman Steve Sisolak for starting the GoFund Me page. Forward-thinking ideas and it should have helped better then it did. However, at the time, it was better than talking about “doing something” and yet doing nothing like a few other politicians that grabbed camera time.
I’m not a big fan of Las Vegas Mayor Sharon Goodman, she is nothing like her husband and former Mayor, Oscar Goodman. She is the Mayor of the city of Las Vegas. The shooting occurred outside her jurisdiction. However, people think she is the Mayor of the entire valley we call “Las Vegas”. She had the insight to say she could do more good by staying out of the way of the Sheriff and the other people on the scene and she did. Luckily a few others took her hint and grabbed camera time elsewhere.
Then we have the officers and officials on the scene. Everybody who had a title was there. You had people who normally work in the front offices of the law enforcement and administrations, being asked to do the unthinkable and come to work the crime scene and to see what they normally just read about in the reports they file or administer.
The biggest one being the security and Metro officers who were able to figure out who did this, where was he and how do we stop this before it gets worse. Yes, this was tragic, but it could have been a lot worse. Think about the size and scope of a place like Mandalay Bay. Hundreds of openings, 50 floors, a dozen elevators… thousands of people. Trying to prevent outright chaos while also trying to stop the bloodshed in mere minutes. They Rocked!!
Finally, we have the unsung heroes. All those people who just opened up and said “What can I do? Where do you need me?” – Not thinking about any monetary gain or getting to be famous for a minute on YouTube, thousands of Las Vegas residents just took to the streets, the blood banks, the hospitals or wherever someone said “can I get…?” they were there to help.
This was something I thought I would never see in Las Vegas. The open, warm hearts of total strangers doing whatever it took to bring Las Vegas back to being Home again. We were not going to let one wack-job lone gunman tear Las Vegas apart again and let the media write the narrative. We created too many feel good, unbelievable stories for them to ignore the truth..
Las Vegas is a Small Town
We are a valley of 2.1 million residents. We have 40 million tourists coming here every year. That’s a lot of people in a very small area. Many of us can not count more than 10 people we could say are “really good friends” they know by name and can count on in a pinch. When you talk to the people of Las Vegas, when you talk to your cocktail waitress, cab driver, uber driver or callgirl, you will find we all knew someone who was there. Who was there as a vendor, a guest or an emergency worker. It showed me that Las Vegas is still a small town with a lot of heart.. We are all connected here whether we want to be or not.
Vegas Does What Vegas Does Best
Finally, Las Vegas does what we do best: We mourn, we celebrate and we move on with life and the memories. Las Vegas celebrates Life!! Some people online criticized Las Vegas for how fast we “moved on” with life. As if we just forgot what happened and buried it in the desert like so many other Vegas stories. I can tell you we did not bury this. This actually did make Las Vegas stronger. We use this as a guidepost for future developments and ideas to help Las Vegas be a better town and a better tourist environment.
As much as the two big monopolies in town try to use this event as an excuse to screw over its workforce and its guests, the people who work and live here know otherwise. It’s the people that work here and the people who come here, that makes this a great place to live and to work. We did not just move on. We just know that life needs to be lived and that the people we lost would not want us to mourn them any longer than necessary. We need to remember that tomorrow is no guarantee, so party now and live for today. Enjoy the people around you and don’t forget to tell them that you love them, no matter how old you are or how silly that sounds. Tell them they are important now. Because it matters. It counts and we will be better as a person for remembering that.
I once thought I had lost that loving feeling for this town. Turns out, I really do love Las Vegas!