BOSTON — One or more suspects created incredibly evil acts in setting off two bombs that killed three people and wounded dozens more at the Boston Marathon.
But many more people acted heroically afterward to save lives and aid victims.
Wearied runners who had just completed 26 grueling miles continued running several more miles to nearby hospitals to donate blood.
Other runners jumped over fences and stepped around debris to assist the fallen and tend to their wounds.
Perhaps most iconic of the selfless heroism of that day is Carlos Arredondo, a resident of Roslindale, Mass., who went to Boston on Monday, a state holiday, to watch National Guardsmen run the race in honor of fallen military members, including Arredondo’s own son, who was killed in Iraq.
Moments after the timed bombs — outfitted from pressure cookers — detonated around 2:50pm Monday, Arredondo, 52, jumped over a security fence and tended to a young man on the ground who had lost his left leg below the knee. Arredondo spoke to the man, asking him for his name and telling him that he was going to be okay. He blocked the young man’s sight so that he would not see the severe extent of his injuries.
Moments later, as the young man was taken away via wheelchair, Arredondo held the young man’s femoral artery in his hand, in all likelihood saving the man’s life.
In subsequent interviews with national and local media outlets, Arredondo deflected the praise being directed toward him and refused to be called a hero.
“I just did my duty,” Arredondo told The Washington Post.
With similar humility, a number of other “ordinary” people did extraordinary things that day, in response to the worst that humanity had to offer.
Medical professionals — doctors, nurses and paramedics — who were spectators immediately rushed to help, tending to victims’ wounds and setting up an emergency triage center in a medical tent.
Joe Andruzzi, a former offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, was watching runners approach the finish line when the bombs went off. He jumped into action, picked up a woman who had fallen and carried her to safety.
“I am definitely not a hero,” Andruzzi told The Boston Globe, which published a photo of him carrying the woman.
Andruzzi, whose three firefighter brothers responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2011, also told the Globe, “I am just a bystander, and that led to my help. Many heroes that I look upon are people like my three brothers that are running into burning buildings when others are running out.”
Bostonians Step Up
Bostonians from all walks of life also stepped up to lend a hand.
Many opened their homes for stranded out-of-town runners and their families to have somewhere to stay while investigators processed evidence in the immense crime scene. They even started an online registry on Google that had more than 8,000 offers to provide housing, food and warm clothes.
“Moments like these, terrible as they are, don’t show our weakness. They show our strength,” Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said during a press conference on Tuesday in Boston.
An anonymous man — known only as Tyler — helped a Northeastern University student seriously wounded by shrapnel. After the young woman was taken to a makeshift medical tent, she told authorities that the man described himself to her as an Army sergeant. He calmed the woman, who was identified by officials only as “Victoria,” and showed her his own shrapnel-wound scars. She was taken by ambulance to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, but the memory of that man stayed with her.
“Victoria very, very much wants to thank Tyler personally,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters during another Tuesday press conference.
“So, if Tyler is out there and listening or reading your reports, we would love to hear from Tyler, so that we can connect him to Victoria,” Patrick said.
Young college students, community leaders and clergy throughout greater Boston and Massachusetts organized candlelight vigils, peace walks and religious services to pray for the victims and show solidarity with them.
The Archdiocese of Boston announced several Masses and services, including a Eucharistic Holy Hour with a Rosary for the bombing victims Wednesday evening at Our Lady’s Parish in Waltham, Mass. The Paulist Center in Boston was also scheduling an interfaith candlelight service Wednesday evening. An archdiocesan website listing this week’s events to honor the victims was set up at The Good Catholic Life.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, in prepared remarks, said, “The citizens of the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services, who responded within moments of these tragic events.”
Cardinal O’Malley added, “In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy, we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.”
Register correspondent Brian Fraga writes from Fall River, Massachusetts.