Finding strength after tragedy



Another tragedy. Another example of the loss of life. Another example of the evils lurking. Without many details and with much confusion, we watch the re-looping of images from the Boston Marathon, hoping that by some chance re-watching the same footage will give us more clarity or insight. Who did this and why?

            In the midst of the confusion, misinformation spreads. From rumors of a third undetonated bomb to whispers in false news reports about a Saudi National being arrested, fear fuels our fires.

            We are filled with sadness and distress. The loss of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the injuries of more than 170 citizens and the uproar created by the media fear mongers all strike us in the depths of our hearts.

            We beg to know if this was an act of terror domestic or foreign, why it happened here, and who it was aimed at. We want answers, but they are slow in their presentation.

            What do we initially know?The suspects were brothers, according to a terrorism expert briefed on the investigation.The suspects were said to be from Chechnya who had moved to the United States several years ago, according to the same source. We learned the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, age 26, was shot dead in a shoot-out with the police and the younger, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, age 19, was then on the run.

But even before the younger brother was caught Friday, even with the details of why these men would target Boston’s Patriot Day marathon unclear, we found hope.

            Much like the other tragedies that have occurred in the last 10 years in our country, our fear didn’t hold us back from our innate humanity.

            A tragedy, yes, but an opportunity as well. It’s another chance to show that we are unshakeable, that we can come to the aid of others, that we are united. Even in the times where we are most in danger from bombs bursting, filled with fear from sources unknown to us, we are still human and we still rush to help others when it really matters.

            This tragedy even had the New York Yankees singing “Sweet Caroline.” It put a baseball rivalry decades old aside for the sake of mourning losses, extending a hand, the offering of sympathies.

            And if the footage of men and women running past the finish line and on toward Boston General to donate blood didn’t capture the feeling, perhaps the images of former NFL lineman Joe Andruzzi scooping a victim off her feet and whisking her toward medical help will.

            And what about the unsung heroes? There were countless Bostonians opening their homes and apartments to strangers, organizing fund-raisers, donating their time and their medical services. The police and FBI forces are to be commended as well, for their dedication in face of uncertainty, confusion and violence.

            In places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, bombs burst daily. Loss of life is not necessarily mundane, but regular. Fear in these places is a way of life.

            For U.S. citizens, we are shaken. We do not all experience random losses of life, regular explosions or fear. These are not our norms.

            It’s not that random acts of violence elsewhere don’t shake some of us, it’s more that in times of trouble in our own country, we are reminded of what really separates us from the rest of the world – our sense of security and faith in democracy to bring the wrong-doers to justice.

            With an entire world watching, waiting and hoping, we were united. Tragedy seems to have that effect on Americans – it serves to strengthen our identity as one, redefine what strangers will do for one another and reaffirm our goals in securing our nation.


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