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Amid The Carnage, Humanity

Since the first moments after the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday we have been inundated with videos and imagery. Much of it is reminiscent of what our veterans saw (and are still seeing) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The carnage is difficult to view. Amidst this overwhelming stream of tragic photos, however, are glimpses of actions that reflect the basic goodness and innate valor of Americans. These actions do not somehow make up for or even mitigate what happened, and to say would be a gross platitude…but they are worthy of inspiration and deserve recognition as such.

Many people took action while the noise of the blasts still echoed. Boston police officers, firemen, ambulance crews, runners, bystanders – they moved to help despite the possibility of additional devices. The first responders at least must have been cognizant of that risk—it’s a standard terrorist target, setting secondaries to kill responders and rescuers.

There is no way to recognize all the acts of selflessness and valor, so we’ll pick just one. It’s a simple video and picture of a man pulling his red shirt off to staunch the wound of a man lying on the ground and it is symbolic in multiple ways. He is a member of Team Red White and Blue, a veterans’ support group that works to ‘enrich the lives of…veterans by connecting them to people in their community through physical and social activity…”. They had 17 members on the ground running in the Boston Marathon (all have now been accounted for).

You may have seen the clip from the news with the runner in the red shirt. It has been played many times on various news channels as the bombing and its aftermath are covered.

Literally taking the shirt of his back to help a wounded man, he and other members of TRWB are a moving representation of the true caliber of our citizenry. These veterans’ actions are a metaphor for what is best in America. Although officials have asked for his identity to thank him (as did the female victim he was helping) he has declined to identify himself, asking via a TRWB spokesman that people offer prayers instead. It may not be as iconic a photo as the visceral images of a BPD officer carrying a child and paramedics rushing a wheelchair bound man to an ambulance but it is a metaphor whose symbolism lies on several levels.

Our prayers go out to all those in Boston—our gratitude to all those who took action to help others despite the risk.

You can follow Boston PD's updates on their Facebook page as their PIO provides additional information.

Images courtesy of Team Red White and Blue Facebook page and Boston Police K9 Unit.

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