Beautiful things

image from nbcnews.com, photo by Charles Krupa, AP

image from nbcnews.com, photo by Charles Krupa, AP

While the investigation into the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon is still in its early stages, one thing is clear: This was by definition, a terrorist attack. We just don’t know the who or the why yet.

What is also clear is that in the midst of violence and mayhem, compassion, heroism and love outshine hatred. The image of first responders running towards the explosions rather than away from them will always stay with me. Examples of kindness abound in reaction to the tragedy. From thousands of runners rushing to local hospitals to donate blood for the injured to people offering up beds and couches in their own homes, to local restaurants telling patrons they only need pay if they could. So many stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

The iconic image of Carlos Arredondo depicts one example of many acts of heroism caught on film.

Carlos Arredondo is no stranger to tragedy. In 2004, Arredondo’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, died in battle in Najaf, Iraq. When Marines arrived on his 44th birthday to deliver the news, Arredondo climbed into the Marine van with a torch and a can of gasoline from his garage. He proceeded to douse the van and set it on fire, severely burning himself in the process.

In 2007, the New York Times wrote a story of a distraught man in a makeshift mobile memorial in the back of his pickup. There was a coffin containing his son’s favorite possessions and photos of his son ranging from those depicting a happy teenager to a fully outfitted battlefield warrior to a body in a coffin.

His grieving brought him national attention. In that same year, Arredondo was publicly beaten during an anti-war demonstration in Washington.

Just before Christmas, 2011, Carlos’ other son, Brian, 24, took his own life as U.S. troops were withdrawing from the war that left his brother dead.

“We are broken people”, Carlos Arredondo told the Boston Herald.

image from nbcnews.com via Getty Images

image from nbcnews.com via Getty Images

But broken, damaged people aren’t the same as broken, damaged things. Broken things are tossed aside, no longer useful or desirable. With broken people, their own pain often fuels their compassion for others who are broken. Even broken and bloodied.

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6 Responses to “Beautiful things”

  1. jake April 16, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I’m probably not saying this right, but the only thing that was even close to redeeming about yesterday’s events was the response of those around, just like you pointed out. Such a heartbreaking day.

  2. SimplyDarlene April 16, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Oh my word, miss Kathy. The man you wrote of and that image you posted is the one I have been going back to in my mind ever since I first saw it in the midst of this tragedy. At first I thought it was his seemingly out of place cowboy hat that drew me in, but it’s his hands.

    And now, to learn of his story, his background, his heart, and his strength to live out mercy with courage, wow. I pray that if he doesn’t already know God, that through this event, he will become a brother in Christ.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    Blessings.

  3. Jason Stasyszen April 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Wow. Underscores that we often just don’t know what others have been through or overcome. There’s always room for compassion and caring with one another. Thanks Kat.

  4. Doug Spurling April 17, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    “But broken, damaged people aren’t the same as broken, damaged things. Broken things are tossed aside, no longer useful or desirable. With broken people, their own pain often fuels their compassion for others who are broken. Even broken and bloodied.” God is near the broken hearted, has come to heal the broken hearted, Carlos is not far from God, thank you for sharing him and Him.

  5. Louise Gallagher April 24, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    Powerful. Powerful. Powerful words and images Kathy.

    Thank you.

  6. Warren Baldwin May 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    An amazing story. One of deeply-felt pain and courage.

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