Odessa, Texas is a dry, dusty, scrub-brush-covered piece of desert with hardly a natural tree or body of water in sight. But to me, the people here make this the most beautiful spot on earth.
The elements, coupled with our relative remoteness, make Odessa a more difficult place to live than most. That’s why we tend to attract strong and resilient folks who like to work hard and play hard. That’s what it takes to make it here. We boast with pride about our families and our successes, but we are also humble enough to submit to the sovereignty of God, and charitable enough to always help our brothers and sisters in times of need.
On Saturday, our community and region were beset by a force of evil. A mobile rampage indiscriminately killed innocent lives and left countless families grieving.
But in the face of such daunting darkness, the people of Odessa emerged as a bright light for all the world to see.
Brave first responders, surrounded by a fury of chaos, risked their own lives to save others by getting the wounded to safety and neutralizing the source of our pain before even more untold damage could be done. God bless the men and women of the Odessa Police Department, Odessa Fire Rescue, the Midland Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Trauma teams at Medical Center Hospital, Odessa Regional Medical Center and Midland Memorial Hospital treated dozens of wounded patients with a calm efficiency that saved lives and allowed some families to be reunited even before the sun set on Saturday night.
Kind people from all across the Permian Basin gave anything they had—even their own blood—to help strangers, and did so without batting an eye.
All of these actions happened across Odessa and Midland without anyone thinking twice or hesitating. Nobody had to. It’s ingrained in the people of West Texas to be gritty and strong for a cause that is greater than ourselves.
I was born and raised here in Odessa, and I’m honored to serve its people in the Texas House of Representatives. I’ve always been proud of Odessa, but I’ve never loved my city more than I do now, after our darkest day.
On Sunday afternoon, I spent several hours (along with Governor Greg Abbott) visiting with many of the survivors at the hospital as they recover. The conversations were great: sometimes painful, but always optimistic. I want to understand the survivors’ (and family members’) experiences and share the burdens of their pain as much as I can. And getting to look into their eyes and listen to them has been very helpful and I’m grateful for their courage to share so much with me.
I want to let you know that I offered to help the survivors and their families in any way possible. They had different types of needs, but they all made the same final request: please continue to pray for me to heal. I believe in the power of prayer and have honored their requests. If you feel compelled to do the same, I hope you will join me in lifting them up in prayer.
But make no mistake, there is other work to be done.
This week, I am focused on helping to direct the abundant resources of the State of Texas to the individuals in the Permian Basin who need that assistance. I am also going to post links to information and resources in the comments section and in subsequent posts that will hopefully be helpful to you or someone you know.
There will be a policy debate about how to stop gun violence and how to save lives during these violent attacks. There’s no question that action must be taken to confront the scourge of gun violence in Texas.
There are obviously widely differing opinions in our state and our nation about how to go about doing this. Transparently, I believe in the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to own and possess firearms. I understand that everyone doesn’t share that belief. Regardless of your position on the issue, if you’re my constituent, I will listen to your ideas and suggestions, and I hope that we can have respectful and productive conversations about them.
Related to that, I’ve already been contacted by many of you with ideas about implementing an “active-shooter alert system,” similar to Amber Alerts, that could better inform the public and save lives in the process. Keep the ideas flowing!
Lastly, I know that these tragedies can often leave us feeling powerless, and I can certainly understand why. But in my view, I believe that they are reminders of how powerful and resilient we actually are. It’s a reminder that no matter how others act in the world around us, we have the power to choose what is in our own heart. We have the power to choose kindness over hatred. We have the power to help instead of hurt.
The people of Odessa, Midland and the Permian Basin are empowered with strong hearts and giving souls — that’s why in the face of evil darkness, We Will Rise.
God bless Texas!
State Representative Brooks Landgraf