It’s impossible not to despair at time like this. The thought of what the Richards family of Dorchester is going through is unbearable. I look at those pictures of Martin and I see dozens of kids I know. My sons’ friends. My friends’ sons. Neighbors. Kids I’ve coached. And I’m reminded of something my mom said about one of her grandkids “When I look in that child’s eyes I see the light of the world looking back at me.” Well I refuse to accept that that light has gone out. As the week goes on here, the stories of the heroic things – some huge, some small – that Bostonians did for each other in the immediate aftermath of the bombings are coming out. And to the extent I can, I’m going to focus on those. As a reminder that while a few people are capable of incomprehensible acts of cruelty, there’s still way more humanity out there than inhumanity:
*Tough Ruck 2013 – These are active duty soldiers who run the Marathon route in honor of their fallen comrades to benefit Military Friends Foundation in support of Families of the Fallen. Some of these guys no sooner crossed the finish line then the first bomb went off and they immediately raced over to start pulling people out of the barricades. Oh, and I should mention that they run the race carrying 40 lb packs on their backs.
*Carlos Arrendondo – One of the Ruckers was racing in honor of Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, Carlos’ son who gave his life in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004. Carlos, stricken with grief, set fire to a van, was caught by news cameras and he was arrested. Later, his other son committed suicide. Carlos got professional help and is active in raising money to help veterans. Now 52, Carlos was at the finish line Monday cheering on the Ruckers. That’s him in the cowboy hat above, helping Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs.
*Anonymous Bostonians – A Google doc offering help to anyone in need… a place to stay, the use of a phone, food and so on… has literally hundreds of entries. Ordinary people opening their homes to complete strangers.
*The Mystery Couple – A runner named Laura Wellington was one of the ones who was nearing the finish when the race was stopped. She tells the story of sitting on the ground, terrified and in shock when a couple came over to comfort her. The husband had finished the race minutes earlier and so the wife took the foil blanket off him and put it around Wellington. The guy asked if she’d finished the race and when she said “no,” he took the medal from around his neck, put on Laura’s and said “You’re a finisher in my eyes.”
*The Civilian and the Firefighter – A teenage girl was suffering from a massive leg wound. When Boston FD Jim Plourde came upon her, a Samaritan had put a tourniquet on her leg to stem the bleeding. Lying in a pool of her own blood, the girl said “I’m scared” as Plourde hoisted her up and carried her to an ambulance. No one knows the name of the guy who probably saved her life.
*Financial Donors – The John Hancock company has pledged a million dollars to aid the victims. Some athletes and team owners in town have stepped up and promised to match funds. I don’t want to name names because I don’t want to seem like I’m honking for them at a time like this. But we know who they are.
*Phantom Gourmet Guy – Don McCarthy is an event organizer for Phantom Gourmet who on Boylston waiting for his wife to finish the race. He found a guy dragging his wife into Forum with most of her foot blown off. He applied a tourniquet and calmed the woman down by making small talk with her, like finding out she’s a dancer and what their wedding song was. He then helped nurses treat a severely injured child and loaded victims onto gurneys before going up the street to find his wife.
*Traci Camel0 – Traci is a nurse at Brigham & Women’s who went from the birthing unit to the emergency room to triage patients then back to the birthing unit to deliver a baby, all in the same shift. From one extreme of human existence to the other and back, all in one day. If there is a tougher, more resilient group of people than nurses, I’ve never met them.
*The Neighbors of the Richard Family – I’m not suggesting that the grief doesn’t extend to every corner of the city because it does. But as a guy who’d OFD, I couldn’t be more proud of the way the people of Dorchester turned out to show their support.
I know this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. There are thousands of stories similar to these. And God willing we’ll hear more of them in the days and weeks to come. I sure hope so, because they’ll never, ever get old. Like they said in Dark Knight Rises: “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.” @JerryThornton1