When bombs rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, our nation once again felt the quake of fear and confusion — a feeling that so many of us wish we could forget. And while it’s easy to be gripped by fear after such a tragedy, we must not let that fear prevent us from coming together and moving forward.
By all accounts, the Boston Marathon bombing was an amateur affair, designed to grab headlines and cause damage. Though no suspects had been named at press time, accounts by FBI and law enforcement officials point to rudimentary devices meant to maim and attract attention. One thing we do not want to do is overreact, as overreacting will give the perpetrators of this horrible crime exactly what they are looking for.
Though it is easy to dwell on the atrocity of the day, we must focus instead on the stories of survival and of heroes who abandoned their fears to help others. Watching videos of the attack — which are not for the faint of heart — one is struck by the sheer number of people who ran not away from the blasts, but toward the victims. These were police, fire and military personnel, but also volunteers, runners and bystanders. All of them moved swiftly to help not only those who had been maimed in the attack, but also those in need of comfort or just a warm blanket. No act of kindness is too small.
The late Fred Rogers once wrote of overcoming his fears during times of tragedy. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” he wrote, “my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Already, the stories of heroism have punctured with hope the bleak news of death and despair. From Sgt. Tyler Dodd, who comforted a wounded woman by showing her his own shrapnel wounds to calm her, to Brent Cunningham, who gave up his finisher’s medal to fellow runner Laura Wellington when she’d been just short of the finish line, these are the stories that should be told of that day.
The swift action of first responders, and the action of medical staff at the 10 Boston hospitals, is being credited for the survival of the more than 170 victims injured in the attack. Many have been released, though others remain in critical condition. But it was thanks to the readiness and preparation of our first responders, and also the enduring spirit of the hundreds of people who pitched in to help.
As law enforcement officials continue to search for those responsible, we must not get so focused on vengeance that we forget about the compassion, bravery and kindness shown by our brethren in the face of unspeakable horror.
We continue to hold the victims and their families in our thoughts and know that Boston will come together bigger, better and stronger.