Emerging from the chaos and smoke at the Boston Marathon were profound images of people rushing to the aid of victims. In a split second – runners, bystanders, race volunteers and first responders became rescuers – and heroes.

What is it that people possess that compels them to run towards danger to save another person’s life?

I’ve thought a lot about it this week. I believe at the core is that a person’s heart is so filled with love and compassion, that caring turns into courage. Maybe it also has something to do with being selfless.

Whatever it is, peace activist Carlos Arrendondo has it.

Carlos was the man in the cowboy hat that we saw holding an American flag. He was at the Boston Marathon to cheer on a group of military service members who were running as a memorial to fallen soldiers. His son, Alex, was one of those fallen soldiers and his heart was heavy not only with grief for Alex, but also for his other son, Brian, who two years ago had taken his own life.

By now, we know the story of Carlos and how he pushed his way through barriers and fencing to get to the victims. An American Red Cross volunteer, he knew what to do.

The most telling photo was that of him and others aiding 27 year old victim, Jeff Bauman. Carlos spotted a piece of cloth on the ground and used it as a tourniquet. Then with his own bare hands he kept pressure on the wounds, talking to Jeff to keep his focus away from his horrific injury as they wheeled him to a nearby ambulance.

This is the kind of bravery that makes a hero. And there were many heroes that day – including runners who had just completed the 26 mile course. They didn’t know what would happen next. But they sprang into action to help save lives.

Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

We found them. And it is these images that have the power to transform and to heal us.


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