By Congressman Jo Bonner
Last week, our nation again was reminded of the threats ordinary citizens face in a free society when evil chooses to strike the innocent. The senseless attacks on the Boston Marathon that left three dead and over 170 injured has shaken the country and evoked images of past acts of terror including the events of September 11, 2001.
In some ways, the Boston tragedy is more reminiscent of the July 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. During that attack, three pipe bombs containing nails were detonated in close proximity to crowds gathered for an evening concert, killing two and injuring 111. While the Atlanta bombing was the result of a lone domestic terrorist, the alleged Boston bombers are foreign-born and avowed Islamists. One of the suspects has died and another is still on the loose as of this writing. Sadly, a law enforcement officer lost his life in the effort to capture the suspects.
All acts of terror are different. However, in each case Americans have responded with incredible bravery. Newspapers, radio and the television have offered moving stories about everyday people who ran to help the bombing victims rather than fleeing for their own personal safety. Who can forget the images of Carlos Arredondo, wearing a cowboy hat, who leapt to the side of a severely injured man, helping to stop his bleeding and comforting him before paramedics arrived?
The most compelling images from the attack in Boston are those of law enforcement and other first responders who immediately turned toward the blasts, dashing straight into danger in order to save lives and protect the public. And of course, the bravery and skill of law enforcement in pursuing the suspects was without question. It simply cannot be emphasized enough how vital our local first responders are to our safety and security. Whether receiving treatment after a horrific tragedy like last week’s bombings in Boston or being rescued from a house fire or medical emergency, we all owe a tremendous debt to the heroes in our communities – our first responders.
(Editorial note: hours after this column was written the second suspect was also captured hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts. He is now in the hospital recovering from multiple gunshot wounds under heavy guard.)