Kindness Uncovered: #BostonStrong

On Monday, at the four hour and nine minute mark of the Boston Marathon, the first of two bombs detonated, signifying yet another American tragedy, a senseless act of hate. Before the race could enter into the four hour and ten minute mark, service members, runners, volunteers, spectators and Bostonians responded with urgency and bravery. It would have been natural to scatter in fear as shrapnel flew, but when screams permeated the air acts of kindness and courage flooded the streets. You see, the thing about the American people is that hatred against the few always breeds extreme kindness among the masses. Rather than disseminate in fear, Americans have already come together in faith.

As news of the duel-bombing in the heart of Beantown spread like wildfire through social media and news outlets on Monday afternoon, the world halted, many waiting with baited breath to hear from loved ones. Millions watched in horror as videos, photos and updates rolled in, jolted by the announcement of such an unfathomable act of terror on the most celebrated day in one of America’s most beloved cities. However, it did not take long to find a light in the darkness, for hope to spread through the sinister events of the day. Many have referenced the famed Mr. Rodgers as they spoke of the great acts of kindness that have surfaced, quoting his wise words, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” On Monday in Boston, you certainly did not have to look far.

First hand accounts from runners and spectators alike allow us to understand the urgency with which volunteers and service members responded to the bombings. Even before the reality and danger of the situation could set in, these men and women put themselves into the line of fire to tend to the victims of the blast and ensure others stayed out of harms way. Personnel raced out of tents and to the sides of those in desperate need of care, prior to processing any further peril that may be looming. Unbridled kindness and strength was the immediate response of a people who truly understand what it means to ban together when faced with acts that intend to tear us apart.

Moments later, as comprehension began to set in, runners crossing the finish line immediately answered the call to action. A moment that should have been filled with joy and triumph had been muddled by fear and sorrow, but that would not stop the participants from becoming victorious in a larger sense. After racing for 26.2 miles, hundreds would walk or jog to the nearest hospital to insist on donating blood, offering all they had left to the victims of the attack.

The breadth of stories that tell the tales of thousands of strangers immediately responding to the Boston Marathon terror attacks is infinite. An emergency room physician waiting for his wife to cross the finish line instantly began caring for his fellow spectators as they fell like dominoes around him. Mere feet from where the bomb went off, he could be found applying pressure to severe leg wounds, even before he could know his wife was safe. Runners whose races were suddenly cut short found a sense of calm and camaraderie in the crowded sidelines as strangers offered, not only an explanation of events, but a way to communicate with loved ones. One runner recounts a spectator handing her a cell phone saying, “Take this. Call whoever.” and then informing her to hand the phone to the next person in need. It was clear that all involved were vigilant in their mission to stand strong together.

The heroism displayed in the minutes and hours following the attack would only be matched by the sincere kindness of an entire nation as word of the bombing hit the social media and news outlets. Within the same day, Bostonians were opening up their homes to runners and spectators visiting the city, strangers in need of shelter. Less than twenty-four hours later, Google fashioned an Internet connection between those offering and those in need; the online document that launched read like the classifieds with entries that expressed heartfelt proposals.

Can pick up. Can sleep 1 person or a couple. Call please if needed.

I have a couch to offer and two beautiful chihuahuas to love you. My apartment is open to anyone in need.

Located across the street from Mass General Hospital in downtown Boston. I have a couch and inflatable twin mattress for anyone who needs a place to stay.

Google would also be at the forefront of the war that social media waged on the events of the day, creating a “person finder” which would allow those in the city to report out that they were safe and accounted for. As a result, the fast work of the search engine gave friends and family members the answers they so desperately sought. Through Google searches, the Twitterverse and the pages of Facebook, those near and far used their social media powers to find and locate loved ones and team members for themselves and others, as well as begin a national war on terror; one that would be fought with intangible kindness, love and support.

Comedian Patton Oswalt took to Facebook to show his support for Boston, sending a message to the terrorist at fault by posting, “The good outnumber you and we always will.” Truer words have never been spoken as the outpouring of support we have seen from far and wide was quick, genuine and unparalleled. By using #OneBoston in their tweets, millions have already begun fundraising for the victims, following in the footsteps of Mayor Thomas Menino who, without hesitation, set up The One Fund to financially support the injured and their families.

As the financial aid rolls in, so does the emotional support as Boston University students spearheaded the Boston Strong campaign to honor the victims and celebrate the strength of the city and it’s occupants. There has been no talk of Republican or Democrat and one of the greatest rivalries in sports dissolved before us as love, respect and admiration for the strength of Boston poured out from the city of New York and their beloved Yankees.

Support continues to burst from every corner of our great nation with each passing hour, as evidenced by the rebirth of a twitter campaign that hits a little too close to home. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, NBC correspondent Ann Curry challenged each of us to spread kindness in honor of the each of the lives that were lost in the tragic event. Thus, the #26Acts of kindness campaign was born. On Monday, Curry took to twitter once again, urging us to commit additional acts of kindness in honor of the Boston Marathon victims and the 26 miles they ran. Americans have promptly risen to the challenge. By tweeting good deeds and messages of kindness, marking their support with #26Acts2, complete strangers across that nation have reported sending toys to a Boston children’s hospital, donating money to area running clubs and buying breakfast for 26 people. Training groups in various states have organized candlelight vigil’s to honor the victims and a runner was photographed tying her medal to a makeshift memorial near the blast sight. In the heart of Boston, restaurants and chefs have been feeding first responders and volunteers free of charge. It is obvious that our nation as a whole has stopped and vowed to stand behind Boston. No one is running away.

Kathrine Switzer, a pioneer who played an integral part in women being allowed to officially participate in the Boston Marathon, famously said, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” These words ring especially true in the moments and days after this year’s event. Marathon runners, much like American’s, are warriors; when crossed, our differences are cast aside and our competitive natures are combined into a single force to be reckoned with. The strength, heroism and kindness that has been shown in the wake of such hatred is what American pride is founded on. Acts of kindness, no matter how big or small, have pulled the victims of this tragic terrorist attack through the initial shock and are indeed, what will undoubtedly heal our nation as a whole. If there was ever a doubt that kindness and love could change the world, the 2013 Boston Marathon has proven that theory wrong.

My thoughts and prayers are with the city of Boston, the victims and their families as you continue to heal and fight the good fight, bringing home justice for your city and our nation. Sending love and gratitude to all who have played a part in the response thus far. The kindness that we have shown one another is captivating and awe-inspiring, a reflection of the city itself. Beantown, I stand with you; we ALL stand with you. #BostonStrong

Feature Image via Do Something,  secondary images via Mashable and CBS News.

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