Once again, a man dies so that others may be saved
National Post View, 30 March 2018
Arnaud Beltrame's widow insists his sacrifice cannot be understood apart from his Christian faith. She notes he died the day before Palm Sunday
The news from France, this time Trèbes, was depressingly familiar. A jihadist terror attack, again. A radicalized Muslim man known to police on a rampage, again. Civilians about their daily business under siege, again.
It happens a few times a year, and the president of France, and the French security services, and the friends of France abroad issued their customary statements, again.
Except that this time it was not the same. Something different happened amid the terrorist routine in Trèbes.
Lt.-Col. Arnaud Beltrame of the French Gendarmerie nationale was on the scene at the supermarket in Trèbes. The terrorist had already killed two people, and was holding hostages inside. Beltrame was the right man. Second-in-command of the region’s police, he was a decorated veteran of the French special forces and esteemed by all as the best of the Gendarmerie.
The lieutenant-colonel then offered to take the place of a female hostage. It was an act of both outstanding courage and tactical brilliance. The jihadi agreed to the swap, and so Beltrame was able to draw close, leaving his mobile phone on so that the police outside could hear what was going on. When they stormed the supermarket, Beltrame was stabbed and shot by the jihadi, and died of his wounds the next day.
His widow noted that he died the day before Palm Sunday, when Holy Week begins. In these holiest of all days for Christians, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is recalled, made present again. All that was somehow made present in the death of Arnaud Beltrame.
His widow insisted that his sacrifice could not be understood apart from his Christian faith, nourished by the monks at the nearby Abbey of Lagrasse. It was one of those monks who attended to Beltrame in hospital, administering the last sacraments before he died.
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