Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, speaks of the WWII generation. Every member of it knew personal sacrifice, either through knowing someone lost in the war or through rationing or extended work in factories. The generation he speaks of was forged in the scarcity of the Great Depression, tested on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, returned after seeing and having personally experienced the horrors – and wonders of war in its humanity, and came back to a nation exalting its courage and bravery.
The key qualities that this generation held were humility, duty, honor and trust. These were qualities thrust upon them by their situations. These qualities were what got you through the worst and also those that brought you the best. They set our country on a path of expansion that we tread on even today.
And some of those qualities can be seen today in the shadows of the horrific bombing in Boston.
They show in the bravery of an anti-war protester father who lost his son in the Iraq war. Carlos Arredondo, nearby the finish line when the bombs went off, is talked of as a hero. His empathy and care for his fellow humans erupted as suddenly as the explosion. He ran to the area where the explosion had happened with no apparent concern for his own safety. He’s seen in a famous gristly photo with a man in a wheelchair whose legs had been severed and shredded by the explosion. Arredondo’s focus is on the victim – his attempts to calm and comfort clearly as visible in the photo as his bloodied hands and the shock on the poor man in the wheelchair’s face.
Duty extends even to the privileged in the form of a former lineman for the New England Patriots, Joe Andruzzi. When asked about his role, he simply stated that focus shouldn’t be on him but on the first responders – the police, EMTs, firemen and physicians who also raced to the scene.
Stories are told from hospital administrators shocked to find lines queued around the building not for information or gawking but to donate blood. Stories warm the cold dark regions of humanity when we hear of people not only in the Boston area offering their beds and homes to those displaced by the blasts, but even as far away as North Carolina. Stories are told about the people, seeing runners and spectators aimless after the chaos, opening their homes with blankets, water, and in a move so appropriate for Boston – beer!
THESE are the stories of Americans. These are the stories of survival, and strength and courage. This is what makes this country great. Our diversity is set aside in these times so we see each other not as partisans or races or creeds but as one country, the greatest country to ever exist on this planet.
And as we suffer and survive through these trials, the world watches. They reel at the evil and revel at our kindness. These are the images that help make people want to jump on rickety boats with the hope of making our shoreline. These are the images that make people want to save thousands of dollars to be placed in a wretched cargo hold in a rolling ship. And these are the images that make them point across the seas and say THAT IS WHERE I WANT TO LIVE.
And for me, it is faith that helps me to grieve for the lost and injured. I believe that the fallen are with the creator God, in his arms. His perfection envelops their souls now, safe from any more pain and harm. These horrible acts do not kill their souls – and they can serve to strengthen ours.
And we mourn and grieve for all of Boston. All of the northeast. All of America.
God bless America.