First responders rushed toward danger at 4 hours, 4 minutes and 45 seconds after the beginning of the Boston Marathon on a much celebrated Patriots Day.
The bombers had detonated two vicious devices designed to maim human beings and, indeed, what medical personnel from local hospitals found was carnage unseen since their days in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Theirs is the courage not merely of a profession, a badge, a uniform, but of character, of strong moral courage and dedication to protecting all of us who sometimes take their service for granted.
But there were other immediate responders. The managers, wait staff and bartenders of a new restaurant to Boylston Street, Forum, were at what we now call “ground zero.” One of the staff was looking out the window toward the green mail box and, without hearing anything, saw a ball of orange/yellow flame and his mouth was soon filled with the grit of devastation.
All Forum employees did what professional first responders do, they went to the danger, to the devastation, toward those in terrible need. When told by local police to evacuate, they refused and proceeded to tend to the wounded, some of whom had been sitting out on their patio for a bird’s eye view of those strong, determined, goal-driven men and women who were finishing perhaps their first marathon, the dream of a life-time.
The crew of the restaurant as well as others who were ambulatory after the blast rushed to help, taking off belts to act as tourniquets which, in many cases probably saved people from bleeding to death. Nearby Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzhi Lu lay wounded and dying.
It’s hard for those of us who watched story unfold on television to imagine what these first responders saw and the bravery they showed in the face of these terrorist acts. As so many of us thought following 9/11, maybe there are other bombs to be set off?
But, almost mindless of their own safety, these men and women of Boston (police, fire, EMS, medics) gathered about the sick, the severely injured and the dying to offer comfort and assistance as we hope that we would were we on the spot.
They held victims in their hands, stroking faces, smoothing their hair and telling them, as best they could with all the hope they could muster, that they would survive to live another day, to enjoy Spring as it continued to bloom in all its effulgence.
The warmth of a hand, face and body is that human touch that forever binds us one to another. This is the blessing of community, of togetherness of our humanity. These are the relationships that say we are of one family.
We must, in this day and age of world-wide terrorism be prepared to do what all the professionals, bystanders and men and women of Forum restaurant did--go to the carnage and be a human presence of comfort and care for people who might very well be facing their last moments on earth, who might be taking their final breaths, who might be taking a last few seconds glance at the great blue sky above, usually so representative of the infinite possibilities of life in America.