Thursday, April 17, 2014


Carlos Arredondo wasn't the only hero to rise up in the Boston Marathon bombing,
but he became the most famous one.

First responders, doctors, surgeons, and ordinary people acted quickly to save
lives on that terrible April day a year ago, but it was the man in the cowboy hat
who became the face of courage and everything that was good on a day destroyed by
an evil act.

Some would say Arredondo was in the "right place at the right time" as a photographer
clicked what would become an iconic image of him rushing Jeff Bauman to medical
care, but there is nothing right about an event that killed three innocent people and
maimed so many others.

But if everything, indeed, does "happen for a reason," then nobody can ever resent
Arredondo for being the one to carry the torch and for the hundreds of heroes who
emerged that day and morphing into the celebrity he has become.

Arredondo deserves everything is he is getting and then some.

In the decade leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon, he had been in the darkest of
places, experiencing pain and tragedy that no man, or parent should ever have to endure.

In 2004, Arrendondo lost a 20-year old son to the war in Iraq. Seven years later, his
other son took his own life, unable to bear the searing pain of losing a brother and best friend.

No parent should ever have to bury their own child,  doing it twice seems just so
unimaginable, not to mention unfair. Think about the pain, mental anguish, and the
guilt that arises from not being able to save or help either one of your children. Two
beautiful children that you helped bring into this world gone, in an instant.

When Arredondo was sitting in the stands near the finish line last year, he did so in
that cowboy hat. In a city where nearly every resident has a Red Sox hat, this guy was
in a cowboy one. He stood out like a Boston accent in a high school's French club.

Arredondo was there cheering on some members of his son's battalion who were
running in the race. How many times do you think he thought about his son killed
in the war and the other one who took his own life because of it?

Then, it was as if God touched him on the shoulder and said, "Carlos, this is your
moment. I have tested you long and hard enough. This is your time to shine."

Carlos came out of his personal darkness and became a hero. When a sudden catastrophic
event occurs, different people act in different ways. Some become paralyzed with fear
and do nothing.

Others become like Forest Gump and just start running until they don't feel like
running anymore.

It's hard to blame anybody for they act in those moments of terror, but it's easy to
admire, adore, and appreciate the people like Arredondo who show tremendous courage
and save a life.

Arredondo, like so many other first responders did everything right that day, and
deserves to be rewarded. He is more famous than all the rest, but there isn't a person,
even if this sometimes petty, jealous, and resentful world, that has a problem with it.

Carlos Arredondo is a true hero. It may never extinguish the blaze of personal pain he
suffers everyday, the result of losing his own flesh and blood, but I hope it has given
him great joy and satisfaction that he saved many others from experiencing the
mind-boggling pain he's had to endure.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


April 15, 2013.

That was the day that two bombs rattled the core of Boston and brought the world class city
to its knees. There was death and destruction thanks to a deliberate act of terrorism by brothers
who were filled with anger and hell bent on making other people's lives as miserable as theirs.

In the hours after the bombings, I heard more than a few Bostonians say their town, their city,
and their marathon would never be the same, as if those two bombs destroyed everything.

Those pessimists were partially right---Boston isn't the same as it was before the bombs
went off. Today, 365 days after one of the worst moments in its storied history, Boston is
stronger, much stronger than it was before those homemade bombs detonated.

It was a great city before April 15, 2013, now, because of its strength and resiliency, Boston is
far beyond being just great. It is spectacular.

I lived in Boston on two different occasions.  I occupied an apartment on Newbury Street,  the
next one over from Boyleston Street and less than 1,000 yards from where the blood was shed
and people died or were maimed for life. I knew all about the heart, soul, and mind of the city.

Boston had been a tough as nails city before those bombs went off on Patriots Day, one of the
biggest holidays in New England. People in Boston rarely want any help from anybody, especially from an outsider. They may reluctantly give you the shirt off their backs just as long as you make
sure it's dry-cleaned when you return it.

They don't have time for small talk and if you don't worship at the altar of the Red Sox, Patriots,
Celtics, and Bruins, you're invisible to them. And Lord help you if you ever utter a bad word
about Tom Brady, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, or Ted Williams. It that happens, be prepared to fight.

However, the soul of Boston was scorched on April 15, 2013. The entire region was shattered
and emotions were as raw as a cold night in February. Their town was damaged, their people
were killed, and their brothers and sisters were maimed for life.

For just a short time, Boston let its guard down. They showed the world they were hurting. But
if anyone thought the bombings would weaken the city,  they were sadly mistaken. We saw the
strength of the city well-before the smoke from the bombs had vanished into thin air.

First responders responded in a way that few have ever done in a life-changing catastrophic
event. Heroes like Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat who suffered his own
personal tragedy losing two sons, one in military action, the other from suicide.

It's easy to ask how much pain can one man handle? But Arrendondo put his personal pain
aside and ran to aid others, not knowing if another bomb would go off and take him.

Arredondo saved Jeff Bauman, whose legs were shredded. He pinched a gushing artery to
keep Bauman from bleeding to death. In a world dearth of heroes, Arredondo was a knight
in shining armor.

More than 15 people who were enjoying marathon Monday, woke up with limbs missing,
their lives changed forever. But they have battled through emotional and physical pain to
try and resume their  life's journey.

They showed much more courage, fight, and will than the athletes on the professional
teams in town can only dream of.  They inspired us, moved us, and made us appreciate the
human will and spirit like never before.

April 15, 2013 ripped Boston apart for short period, but a year later, the city is stronger than
it has ever been. Ever.

It is not Boston Strong, but Boston Stronger. The city is better than its ever been, and next
Monday, the Boston Marathon will be the greatest marathon on American soil--bar none.

People are running in this race to raise money for charity and just to be part of the healing
and reconstruction process. It will be the most watched, most covered, and most exciting
marathon this country has ever seen.

And it's Boston's Marathon. That will always be the case. However, this year, it will be better
than it has ever been. Ever. Just like the city itself.