America: home of the brave, and the resilient

Search the internet for footage of the Boston Marathon, and dozens of results will appear. A common thread runs throughout them all – people scrambling, terrified at the surprising explosion, officers rushing in to help as runners lay sprawled across the streets.  But one stands out from all of the others. In one particular shot, a woman running in the marathon hears the bomb go off behind her, looks back, but then immediately checks the time on her watch and continues on.

To the viewer, the woman’s decision to keep running prompts a variety of responses. Is this woman crazy? She’s putting herself in danger. That’s the definition of a runner’s dedication.

This dedication represents something beyond dedication to a race. This woman is not calloused, or unaware of the magnitude of the situation at hand. She is simply doing what many Americans have been able to do best during times of tragedy: stay strong and carry on.

Americans are no longer inexperienced in situations like the Boston explosion. The September 11 attacks forever changed that. However, the way that the public has dealt with these situations has provided a new definition of what it means to be an American.

Due to the occurrence this Monday, are runners fearful of participating in other major marathons in the future? Some are, but there are still others like Bill Iffrig, the subject of the now famous Boston Globe photo, who said in his interview with Piers Morgan that he will continue to participate in other races.

It is in a runner’s nature to challenge themselves continuously, so it seems irrational for them to stop now.

To put this in another context, consider a situation that occurred earlier this year at Middletown High School.

Rumors spread through MHS during the week of Dec. 21 of a potential threat to students that would occur that Friday. Fear among students increased on social media, as many students posted their intentions to stay home from school that day for safety reasons.

Though attendance was down that Friday, the majority of students kept faith in the precautionary security measures installed, and decided to go to school.

Granted, the security threat was on a much smaller scale than the Monday’s explosion, but the response was the same: carry on.

Even in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, people were able to put fear behind them and face the future with optimism. Have people avoided taking trips to New York City? Of course not.

If so, clearly the MHS Drama department trip to see the musical Newsies on May 18 would not be happening. But, as they say in show business, the show must go on.

This sentiment should not be confused with callousness. Americans are still able to feel the pain of their fellow human beings.

There are reports from the NBC Sports Network of runners who completed the race, and then continued to run to the hospital to provide blood for those who were injured.

What is most impressive is that the public is able to express this feeling of unity, while at the same time realizing that these situations should not impose hysteria or change the way peole carry out their daily lives.

That is what makes America different. It makes this country stronger, worthy of the title given by Francis Scott Key, “the home of the brave.”