Many of you who know me know I like to run. I run marathons and have completed over forty and have every intention to keep running two a year for as long as my body holds up. One of my most memorable races was the 100th anniversary run of the Boston Marathon. As I watched the recent events replay on my television I was saddened. The bombs erupting just as runners were completing their last steps, draining their remaining energy stores, and their supporters yelling with every ounce of energy they had left. I recalled that moment of triumph during my own running of the race as I completed the last steps along Boylston. Pure joy was etched on every face around me. To see that taken away and replaced with horror was awful.
As I watched the various clips I also saw something else. I saw that same joy and encouragement normally reserved for the race completion spring into action to offer assistance to those most hurt. I saw people running towards the explosion not away from it. I saw humanity at its best when someone had tried to reveal its worst. I read a poignant piece by Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) who reminded us through reminding the perpetrators of this act that "the good outnumber you, and we always will."
On my flight home a runner sat down beside me. I knew this because she had her Boston Marathon jacket on. She shared a little of her experience as she was completing the great race. She was half a mile from completing the race when officials stopped them. The panic set in as various reports were received on various devices and people were completely confused. Bombs at a marathon? As the reality sank in she worried about her husband who was to meet her at the finish line. Fortunately he had moved away and was making his way to the 26-mile marker when the explosions occurred. The joy of the race was taken away from so many. She also spoke of the overwhelming humanity as people came out of their houses to offer items to help runners get warm as the chill set in, or offered a place if they couldn’t get back to their hotel.
I thought about what ends up being a real challenge in horrific incidents like this one. We want so much to know the truth and who might have perpetrated this heinous act that we use a lot of ink and airtime to publicize their deeds. I understand the importance of exposing evil and putting a name and a face to it. Ultimately it reduces their power and reminds us of the wisdom of Oswalt’s comment. But I want us to learn the names of the heroes just as clearly. I want to know about the courageous acts of the runners and spectators who turned to face danger, the first responders who acted unfailingly to treat the injured without any certainty of the presence or absence of other explosives, the medical teams who worked diligently to save lives, reduce fears, and offer hope.
Yes, we learn the names of the monsters throughout the history of our existence. Every time the names of those who performed this act are mentioned, there ought to be a ten-fold mention, or publication, of the names of the heroes. It’s a challenge I’m willing to take up. Names like Jessica Sexton, a nurse who sat by a child’s bed for hours after the bombing, or Carl Hauser a trauma surgeon who was on call that day and had to assess the 25 patients brought in and determine need during the 33 hours of the shift he put in, or Eric Goralnick an ER doctor who was one of the first responders at another hospital that treated 31 patients. I want to remember little Martin Richard as no 8 year old should have his life end so tragically moments after embracing his father who had completed the run
As this story continues to unfold and the world hears about another couple of names masking as evil, I hope you’ll also take up the challenge to remember and promote the helpers. They are all around us and deserve far more time in our memory banks than those who set about to create fear.