The Salem News
---- — Among the more inspiring stories to emerge from the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing have been those that tell of the heroic actions of those who responded to the blasts.
Those stories, as well as the outpouring of support that Bostonians and New Englanders have received from around the nation and the world, give us confidence that, while we are still reeling from Monday’s tragedy, goodness ultimately triumphs over evil.
The marathon bombing may well have been the most photographed terror attack in history. Thousands of photographers, both amateur and professional, were on hand recording videos and taking still images of the runners as they finished the race. They documented the explosions and their aftermath from virtually every angle. Many of those videos and images have been published or posted to the Internet.
The common theme running through them all is the great number of people running toward the locations of the blasts. Many of these, of course, were professional first responders — police, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, doctors and nurses. Others were ordinary citizens — spectators and runners — who were eager to help comfort the injured.
The scene immediately following the explosions was complete chaos. It was unclear whether more blasts would follow or what further mayhem might ensue. Yet people saw that there were many injured, some severely, and they moved in to help.
Peter O’Connor and Donald Philpot were part of a group of Beverly firefighters who volunteer at the marathon each year. When the explosions occurred, O’Connor told reporter Bethany Bray, “Everybody just jumped into the stuff we were trained to do. Everybody went to someone that was injured.”
Both men were impressed by the actions of bystanders who moved toward the site of the explosion, looking to help.
“The people that hadn’t had any training — everyone was wary of what else might be happening, but no one was concerned about that. They were trying to make the situation better,” said O’Connor, a deputy chief.
Philpot, a lieutenant, took over for a marathon runner who had stopped to help a blast victim.
“There really were a lot of people that moved toward the sound of the destruction,” he said. “For me, (what stands out) was the response of the people who didn’t necessarily have any training. They went to help, they didn’t turn the other way — that was the impressive part.”
This is heroism, pure and simple. It is doing what must be done, without regard to one’s personal safety.
President Barack Obama recognized this heroism in a news conference Tuesday.
“The American people refused to be terrorized,” the president said. “... So, if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.”
That selflessness and compassion was evident from the moment the day’s celebration turned to tragedy. Runners still on the course headed to city hospitals offering to donate blood. Boston residents used the Internet to offer their homes and apartments to those stranded and needing a place to stay.
The comment sections of stories about the marathon bombing in newspapers around the country and abroad were filled with sympathy and well wishes for the people of Boston.
At sporting events Monday night, players and fans, even from usually bitter rivals, paid tribute with moments of silence.
Sports rivalries are great fun. But when the chips are down, we know we are all Americans and can count on each other for support.
The Chicago Tribune’s sports section Tuesday posted a wonderful message of support to Boston sports teams and their fans. And Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, fans sang Fenway favorite “Sweet Caroline” as a token of solidarity.
We are grateful for all these gestures of support, large and small. We are thankful for the courage, skill and quick reactions of those who responded at the scene of the bombing.
And most of all, we are proud to call all of you our friends and neighbors.