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It is a rare event these days when the world pauses for even a moment of reflection. But the last actions of Arnaud Beltrame demand it.

Lt. Col. Beltrame is the French police officer who took the place of a cashier and mother of a two-year-old girl who was being held hostage by a fanatic in a grocery store in southern France last week.

The hostage-taker had already murdered three people. But Lt. Col. Beltrame was willing to disarm himself and trade places with the young woman.

The siege continued, with Lt. Col. Beltrame’s colleagues listening to developments via the policeman’s cellphone, which he had cannily left on. When the officer attempted to disarm the man, the man mortally injured him with a knife. The police stormed the store and killed the suspect, ending the terror.

The word hero applies to those who commit extraordinary acts of bravery and show selfless devotion to duty. In laying down his weapon and walking into harm’s way to save a civilian, Lt. Col. Beltrame embodied true heroism.

At his state funeral in Paris on Wednesday, at which thousands paid their respects in person while millions watched on television, the life and death of Lt. Col. Beltrame provided a moment to reflect on his selfless actions. French President Emmanuel Macron correctly described the policeman’s fateful decision, saying he surely knew “he had a rendezvous with death.”

Lt. Col. Beltrame was the last to die that bloody day and, as our world turns, the state funeral will soon become a distant memory.

But let us remember as we gather with families this holiday weekend that, beyond the trappings of the state funeral, there is a widow in distress. We leave the last word to Marielle, married two years ago.

“Arnaud was profoundly attached to what he called the ‘gendarmerie family’ for which he didn’t count the hours or his engagement.

“He knew how to unite his men, to give them their momentum, to enable them to give the best of themselves. He was motivated by very high moral values, the values of service, of generosity, of giving of oneself, of self-abnegation.”

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