The Human Spirit

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”                                                                                                                                                                                                            – Bob Riley

Amidst the accounts of horrific injuries and tragic loss of life on April 15, 2013 at the bombing of the Boston Marathon, there exists humanity at its greatest.  As with any act of terrorism, we are reminded that among us quietly grows the seed of hope, propelling the human race forward. It is reaffirmed that we are stronger than those that wish us harm, that empathy, not apathy, rules the day.

We know heroism. The uniforms of our soldiers and first responders serve as symbols, reminding us that brave men and women choose to protect us every day. Yet, through tragedy, new heroes are revealed. No uniform, just ordinary people unnoticed except for these grave days.

When explosions rang in Boston, they instinctively ran toward the chaos, not away. Carlos Arredondo raced to the finish line, helping pinch shut the severed artery of a stranger. Dr. Allan Panter, a proud husband cheering on his wife, performed triage on the severely injured. Former Patriots lineman, Joe Andruzzi, carried injured to medical tents. Marathon runners, exhausted from the 26.2-mile run, continued running all the way to Mass General Hospital to donate blood for the injured.

Residents opened their homes, refrigerators and their arms, caring for those in need. Social media was ablaze, not for graphic accounts, but to pass along vital information, offer assistance, and to help reconnect loved ones. Google relaunched its People Finder for those looking for someone and those with information about someone.

A terrorist’s goal surely must be to inflict collective damage, to create a lasting, to-the-core type of injury, to maim our spirit for living, fighting, and dying for one another. Yet, ironically, this evil does not separate us but instead unites us. Barriers separating stranger from stranger are dissolved. Runner Laura Wellington tells us this way, “The man asked me if I finished to which I nodded ‘no’.  He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and place it around mine. He told me ‘you are a finisher in my eyes.’”

Once again the nation pulled together in support of those who had fallen. Once again, hearing the national anthem sung by crowds of citizens, I am thinking of the singing at the Boston Garden preceding a hockey match, for one, brought tears to the eyes. “Land of the free and the home of the brave” indeed. Will we have even more compassion for those, like the people of the Middle East, who live under the threat of constant terrorist attacks? I think so. Will we have more moments to be thankful for the ordinary days of our lives? I know so.

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