Here’s to the heroes

Apr. 19, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

After the shock had subsided, their stories started to surface.

Carlos Arredondo’s son had died in combat, and he was at the Boston Marathon distributing American flags to spectators. After the explosion, he bound the leg wounds of a critically injured young man and saw him to an ambulance.

Joe Andruzzi, former New England Patriots lineman, was spotted carrying a wounded woman to a triage tent. Numerous first responders, military personnel and others — some of whom have been identified, others who remain anonymous — ran toward the carnage and saved lives without regard for their own safety.

For every heartbreaking image of the attacks in Boston this week, there is one of heroism and hope. When the unthinkable befalls an American community, whether it is a major metropolis or a single-stoplight town, the good in humanity seems to shine all the brighter.

Sanford residents don’t have to reach too far into their memories for their own examples. When a tornado cut a violent swath through the city two years ago this week, organizations and individuals mobilized almost immediately — meeting chaos and confusion with comfort and clarity. For weeks afterward, tireless volunteers provided clothing, hot meals, information and anything else they could collect to aid the victims.

There’s no substitute for preparedness and vigilance, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that calamity can never be completely avoided. Runners and spectators at the home stretch had no reason to be fearful at Monday’s marathon, and shoppers at the Sanford Lowe’s on April 16, 2011, surely couldn’t predict the building’s collapse.

Lee County has make a remarkable comeback, due in large part to those who acted rather than waiting for others to come forward. Boston’s rebound from this tragedy will likewise depend on citizens’ resolve, and whether they are driven by these events — or deterred by them.

Here in Sanford, it was heartening to see the Brick City Run Tribe congregate as usual this week, if anything more determined to hit the pavement than they were before the events of April 15. The group always has passion, but this time, it ran with solemn purpose. Outraged by the attacks on their “brothers and sisters,” members began taking up collections and sending what support they could from more than 850 miles away.

In an uncertain world, our control is limited. But as Lee County saw two Aprils ago, and as Boston is seeing now, we can decide whether to meet unforeseen challenges with cowardice or courage.

We give thanks for those who choose the latter.