I sat around with a bunch of friends Monday evening, and the main topic of conversation was the terrible tragedy of the Boston bombs that earlier in the day had killed three people, including an eight-year old child, and injured more than 170. According to news reports, two bombs exploded within seconds of each other as a majority of the runners in the famous Boston Marathon reached the finish line. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has taken over the hunt for the perpetrators. Some 23,000 runners participated in the race. Officials say the attack may have been timed for maximum bloodshed since the four-hour mark of the twenty-six mile race is normally when the majority of runners reach the finish line and thousands of friends and relatives are crowded around the line cheering them in.
The carnage has been felt around the nation as police tightened security and monitored landmarks, governmental buildings, transit spots and sporting events. "We will go to the ends of the Earth to identify the subject or subjects who are responsible for this despicable crime, and we will do everything we can to bring them to justice," said Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge in Boston. He said investigators had received "voluminous tips," were interviewing witnesses and analyzing the crime scene. The bombs tore off limbs and left the streets bloody and strewn with broken glass from nearby buildings. A doctor treating the wounded said one of the victims was maimed by what looked like ball bearings or BBs.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said investigators gathered a large number of surveillance tapes from businesses and intend to go through them frame by frame. Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Smithfield, R.I., had just finished the race when he heard the explosions. "I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."
At the White House, President Barack Obama vowed Monday that those responsible will "feel the full weight of justice." Obama has ordered flags at the White House and all government buildings throughout the world to be flown at half-staff in honor of the Boston Marathon explosion victims. Obama signed the proclamation making the order Tuesday morning, calling it a "mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence" perpetrated in Boston the previous day. He ordered flags to remain lowered through sunset Saturday.
Several of my friends expressed outrage that this type of violence could occur in America. I agree that Americans are not very experienced in facing such types of public violence. But we’re naïve to think that no one should, could or will attack us on our own home ground. The unfortunate reality of today’s world is that violence, instead of occurring in rare acts like these bombings, is becoming more prevalent.
Other countries around the world have faced such terror for hundreds of years. In recent times, France has had Venezuelan Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, known as Carlos the Jackal who is serving life in prison for his heinous acts which include the 1975 murder of two French counter-intelligence agents and an informant for the French government. While in prison he was further convicted of attacks in France that killed 11 and injured 150 people and sentenced to an additional life term. Nearly every country around the world has individuals or organizations involved in such acts of terrorism.
In my travels as an airline crew member, the crews often had to be escorted to their hotel rooms by soldiers hoisting carbines for our protection. Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Venezuela were not bad places, just places that had some bad people. In Paris on vacation, my girlfriend and I experienced being held down in the middle of a street by gendarmes as a bomb went off nearby. In London, a bus full of tourists was blown up near tourist attractions. The list goes on.
It’s not that America is different or better. It’s just that the madness is coming our way and we’d better be prepared to deal with it when it gets here.