Kadner: Courage in the face of terror
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2013 10:04PM
A Boston Marathon competitor and Boston police run from the area of an explosion near the finish line in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News, Ken McGagh) MANDATORY CREDIT
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:31AM
This is the world we live in now.
You go to a sports event, a concert, a political event with family members or friends and have to think about the possibility of a bomb exploding or a gunman going wild.
And then you go on with your life because that’s what you must do.
As I write, I do not know whether the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday were the work of international terrorists or home-grown wackos.
I frankly do not care if they were trying to make a political statement or simply angry at the world. I have no compassion for them or sympathy for their causes.
It does concern me that children today are growing up in a country that seems very different than the one I knew as a child.
Then again, just how ideal was that world I remember?
We had air raid drills in grammar school, preparing us for the day when nuclear missiles would drop from the sky. In the basement of my home, my parents stored bottled water and canned goods.
Our shabby fallout shelter was prepared during the Cuban missile crisis, and I will never forget the concern on my mother’s face as she watched the news in October 1962 and turned from the broadcast to her children.
In the South, people marching for civil rights were beaten, jailed and murdered.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, followed by Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
And then college students began rioting all across America in protest of the Vietnam War, and police officers in Chicago clubbed anti-war demonstrators in town for the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
That was the norm for me growing up. But none of that ever made an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” that I can recall.
My father often reminded me how good I had it compared to his days growing up in America. He was a child of the Depression. People sold apples in the streets because there were no jobs.
Labor unions waged war with corporate America, or maybe it was the other way around. Bombs were thrown. People were killed. It’s a part of our history that much of America has forgotten.
And then came Pearl Harbor, the Nazis and World War II.
Life is different today, but it has never been simple or easy.
Those who use terror as a weapon against the people of this country need to believe we are soft.
They think they can make us cower in our homes, create a sense of panic in government and generate distrust between neighbors.
In a free country, it’s impossible for a government to protect us all of the time. And each time we sacrifice one of our freedoms for a little peace of mind, the bad guys win.
As I looked at the blood-stained scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and a U.S. flag lying nearby, those are the thoughts that crossed my mind.
There is no justification for such an act. There is no understanding it. It will never make sense.
Boston, of course, has a unique place in American history. It is the birthplace of the Revolution.
And that was an event that remains unique in history because it created a government run by ordinary people.
There are no kings. No dictators. No military officials or religious leaders issuing commands about how people must live.
The concept is so radical that many of our enemies in foreign lands can’t begin to understand it. It sometimes causes such confusion at home that people rebel against it.
It’s human nature, I guess, to want a father figure who will issue commands and is responsible for solving all of our problems.
That is not America. This is a country that demands that every citizen play a role in its destiny.
Each of us is independent; yet each of us is dependent on the others.
And when some one, or some group, strikes at any of us, he attacks us all.
The Boston Marathon has always been America in miniature. The old and the young from throughout the country and the world come to run a foot race.
While winning for some may be important, for most it is simply a matter of overcoming their fears. They run to prove to themselves that they can do it.
The victory is not always at the finish line, but simply in the effort in having tried. Perhaps for that very reason, for what the marathon symbolizes, it became a target.
No words can describe the agony on the faces of people whose loved ones were injured in the blast. One photograph captured an expression of an injured man who doesn’t seem to know what happened to him.
And that’s pretty much the way the rest of the country felt late Monday afternoon.
Soon enough, there will be details. I guarantee knowing them won’t be much comfort.
Tomorrow, most of us will go back to work and force a smile as we tell loved ones to have a good day. Maybe we will hug them a moment longer than we would have before the Boston Marathon exploded in pain.
It’s not a glamorous thing to do, but continuing the routine of daily life is the most effective weapon against those who use terror as a weapon.
For the sake of America’s children, this is the courage needed now.