LANDGRAF: The best of Texas

By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf

Our nation often looks to Texas as a beacon of hope and I truly believe our great state can always look to the Permian Basin and its people as the best example of what it means to be a Texan. On this day, I am reminded of how proud I am of Odessa and how much I love this city. I was born and raised here in Odessa, and I’m honored to serve its people in the Texas House of Representatives.

The people here are resilient, like a cactus. Odessa is a dry piece of desert radiating in scorching heat with hardly a natural tree or body of water in sight. We live in the harshest of conditions, but we survive and we thrive. We put our head down and get to work — always with undeniable grit.

It is the people residing here that make this the most beautiful spot on earth. Our hearts overflow with love for our families and pride in our victories. We place our faith in Almighty God and always stand ready to help our brothers and sisters in times of need.

Two years ago, our community and region were beset by a force of evil and our collective strength was tested. A mobile rampage indiscriminately killed innocent lives and left countless families grieving.

But in the face of such daunting darkness, the people of West Texas emerged as a bright light for all the world to see.

Brave first responders risked their own lives to save others by getting the wounded to safety and neutralizing the shooter before even more damage could be done. 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 that last night in August.

Kind people from all across this community gave anything and everything they had—even their own blood—to help strangers, and did so without batting an eye. The Permian Basin, surrounded by a fury of chaos and in the face of evil, stood strong and responded with might in true Texas spirit.

Rather than leave us feeling powerless, this tragic event furthered our resolve and determination for a cause greater than ourselves. I was 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. Families of the victims bravely stepped forward and were instrumental in seeing those ideas become a reality.

The names of those lost will forever be etched in our hearts, and will always be part of the fabric of our community: Edwin Peregrino, Joseph Griffith, Kameron Brown, Leilah Hernandez, Mary Granados, Raul Garcia, and Rodolfo Arco. In their memory, I proudly filed HB 103 during this year’s legislative session, and with the resilience of the Permian Basin we were successful in passing it into law.

HB 103 was named the Leilah Hernandez Act, after the youngest victim killed on that tragic day, and it will require the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to develop and implement the Active Shooter Alert System. Through the efforts of our community we created change that will improve public safety and save lives.

In the darkest of moments, our strong-willed hearts and giving souls will always guide us through — that’s why the Permian Basin will always exemplify the best of Texas.

And on this Tuesday, let’s not forget the survivors, and the families of the victims of 8/31/19.

God bless Texas!