April 15, 2013

Remembering The Boston Marathon Attack: There Were More Heroes than Villains Today

A Veteran from TRWB using his shirt as a bandage
It is often assumed that the memory of an event is solely based on what actually happened, rather than a process that occurs overtime and through a purposeful process. Like many other veterans, this day was harder for me because all the images of carnage conjured up memories of similar tragedies. I have been watching the images and has sent me back to the aftermaths of suicide bomber attacks on civilians. That is my weight to bear and is less important than trying to make sense of days like today. All of the television footage of the explosions do not hold a candle to what was actually experienced.

With the shock-wave of high explosives sensations of heat and concussion hit you before your brain can process the image. So the television cameras are less of  an expression of the actual experience, instead, they provide an illusion of clarity. When you see people still running forward its because their brains haven't even put two and two together yet. It is worse for the injured because they are physically affected by the injuries prior to even full rationalization of what is happening.

When you come to a location after a bombing, people have almost no understanding of their injuries. The adrenaline of the attack will cover up the pain, but there is still such a look of terror. I was just standing here and there was this loud noise, heat, pain, and I am now on the ground. The emotional shock of the event almost overpowers the physical aspects until the chemical groups that manage adrenaline fade away. Medical professionals call this the golden hour. Shell Shock was the moniker of the First World War because it speaks to the confusion and chaos that goes on in the brain in the wake of explosions like today's. These chemicals often damage memory and will always make these memories difficult without the tragic nature of their content.

Watching the images of people on the ground just looking around aimlessly illustrates how the events are much more chaotic for people present. The capturing of multiple still images does very little to capture it. Just think of the smell of it. You never forget those smells and anything that reminds me of the smell of burning flesh make me sick for weeks.

Despite the horror and misery that these poor runners and bystanders absorbed today, no justice for the terrorist(s) who did this will make it right. The important part of the narrative that will diminish over time is the human capacity for compassion illustrated by this tragedy. It is important that we remember the good that was demonstrated today. Watch the video. One person or a small group of people did this, but before the smoke cleared people were running to help. You could see some bleeding themselves and doing all they could to save others.

That doesn't make everything better, but when things like this happen it is important to note that when one or maybe ten people conspire to do something this terrible, hundreds of people will rush into that danger to help others. There is no divorcing today's attack from the tragic impact it has made on the lives of the injured, but it is another reminder that their will always be many more people rushing to help. Some people have no problem doing terrible things to innocent people, but more people will fight to help the injured. In senseless tragedies we see the worst of a few people, but the best of so many more. It doesn't make the suffering from today's events any less acute, but it does speak to the human spirit and how we can stand in the face of tragedy. In the coming weeks we are going to be bombarded with what went wrong today, and I am sure there may be some finite oversights that could have prevented this. However, there were many more good people stepping up as heroes than there were terrorists using the misery of the innocent to draw attention to their cause. We would be wise not to forget this hard earned fact, that many more first responders and bystanders did all they could to save lives today.


  1. Beautiful and powerful account that everyone needs to read. Thank you for sharing the many layers of this tragedy. My prayers are with the victims, their families AND with all who have been affected. (Count us as part of that latter group). I'll be sharing and hoping others will do the same.

  2. Well said, may the good lord help the sorry sob that did this..

  3. Well said, may the good lord help the sorry sob that did this..

  4. Heather O'DonnellApril 16, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Thank you, well said. It is truly amazing how total strangers pull together, it shows that there is more love than hate in our world.

  5. This is a song that I listen to when things like this happen. "Everything is gonna be alright... I want to life like you right now, want to make your sacrifice worthwhile." Believe by Yellowcard

  6. Excellent viewpoint!


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