Thursday, April 18, 2013

These Are the Times that Try Men's Souls...

So wrote Thomas Paine in his pamphlet "The American Crisis," written over 200 years ago.

I have hesitated a couple of days in writing about Boston with the idea that the picture of what happened there would clear up a bit.  I wanted to know if there was any idea of who did it.  I wanted to know if there was any connection to the attempt on the President's life, in the form of a letter laced with ricin that was sent to him.  It is 48 hours later.  It seems that not much has become more clear.

People have offered me condolences, that I might have some increased connection to what happened because I am American.  I love Boston.  I love the twisty, windy streets.  I could spend hours in the Public Garden, reading "Make Way for Ducklings" right next to the bronze statue of a mother duck and her ducklings.  That being said, I would like to return those condolences to all the Canadians who have offered them to me.  What happened was an attack on all of us.  Organizers of marathons in Toronto and in London, UK, are taking new looks at security procedures for upcoming events.  The level of vigilance must be raised by all, as all are potential targets.

I do not particularly care what the reasons for the attack might have been.  It is the attack of a coward to target unaware innocents.  No political message weighs against the life of a young boy.

As I said, not much is clear.  Let's talk about what is clear.

     People made tourniquets from their own clothing.

     The theme song of the dreaded Red Sox, "Sweet Caroline," was played at Yankee Stadium.

     Nobody has jumped to blame anyone else.

     There were offers of pizza from Perth, Australia to anyone providing shelter for strangers.

     Lessons of battlefield medicine were applied and saved countless lives.

     The people of Boston offered food, clothing, and shelter to complete strangers.

We usually only hear the first verse of "America the Beautiful."  I find the last stanza compelling.  It is printed below.

     O beautiful for patriot dream
     That sees beyond the years
     Thine alabaster cities gleam
     Undimmed by human tears.

The people of Boston will recover from this theft of their innocence. I believe this not because I believe in the people of Boston more than anyone else. Rather, it is because the FBI is presently seeking two suspects. These cowards are hiding. But the people who responded, not out of obligation to their jobs, but out of obligation to their humanity, will be too many to name them all. We will forever be haunted by the memories of those who died and were permanently maimed. We will also forever be blessed by the way ordinary people responded to extraordinary circumstances.


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