Unity trumps tragedy: before the dust had settled in Boston, heroes jump to the rescue

The human spirit is a beautiful thing. It is resilient, color-blind and full of potential. When harnessed, it is the most powerful entity in the world.

The time was 1:49 p.m. when the world felt the blow of an animal, full of rage and anger. In a fleeting moment, shock rippled across the nation as we stood transfixed at events on the news. We watched as our brothers and sisters fled or were rescued from a blast zone in downtown Boston. Many are recovering from severe injuries. However, it quickly became apparent that our nation’s spirit was not bombed into submission; instead, it flourished. A spirit not tarnished by the scars of evil.

Take Jeff Bauman. He was there to cheer on his girlfriend, who was participating in her first marathon. Instead of hugging her at the finish line, Bauman had his legs blown off. He was photographed in a wheelchair with his leg bones exposed — one severed femoral artery away from death. But while still in intensive care, he identified one of the bombers. He provided enough detailed facial description to validate photos of suspects gathered by the FBI. Amazing.

If Jeff Bauman’s story isn’t one to make you proud, consider Carlos Arredondo. He is a Costa Rican-American who was running in the Boston Marathon; he was near the finish when the explosion occurred. Arredondo rushed in to help, as is his nature given this membership in the American Red Cross. Arredondo can be seen in photographs pushing Bauman while applying pressure to Bauman’s femoral artery. His heroism in Boston is well documented, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what he has been through.

His 20-year-old son, Alexander Scott Arredondo, was killed in the Iraq War in 2007, on Carlos’ 44th birthday. Carlos was evaluated by multiple psychiatrists in the aftermath of his son’s death after attempting suicide.

Then, in 2011, his second son, Brian, took his own life after failing to overcome the grief from his older brother’s death.

Carlos somehow overcome a double dose of loss and grief and conquered his depression. He now is an activist for both anti-war and suicide-prevention campaigns. Saving Bauman was almost second nature to Carlos Arredondo, who has washed off the blood of others too many times. He’s one tough cookie.

Bauman and Arredondo are just two people brought together by tragedy. The bombing put a much larger group of people in the spotlight: the citizens of Boston. Shortly after the bombings, all flights leaving Logan Airport in Boston were grounded, and the 27,000 individuals who participated in the Marathon were stranded with limited resources and thousands of miles from home. Bostonians came together and created a Google document that compiled a list of people who would take in marathon runners. The wonderful people of Boston opened up their homes to complete strangers in a time of peril without a second thought. Some had room for seven, some for one. But they all offered help.

Support for the victims of the bombing is ongoing. As a whole, they are facing an estimated $9 million in medical costs. In addition to that medical attention, some of the permanently wounded victims will face a loss of employment. Prosthetic limbs for the 14 victims who received amputations might cost as much at $50,000 each.

With these impending costs in mind, One Fund Boston, a program set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino already has raised more than $7 million in a week and a half. And that’s just one charity. There are many other charities online to which one can donate. The point is, we come together.

We come together against peril. We come together against the mistreatment of our fellow men and women, and we come together because we are, in the end, of one spirit.

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