Ethan: In the wake of the Boston bombings, President Barack Obama said none of us are Democrats or Republicans. I couldn’t agree more. Any initial reflections?
Phil: Just a few — in between our prayers of support for those impacted by this act of terrorism. For many, the terror was personal. My daughter works at Massachusetts General Hospital. As events were unfolding, her text messages became fearful, and my heart sank, wondering if her texts were going to be her last. Then I got angry. Angry that people can inflict fear, disability, mayhem and even death in a split second.
Ethan: Very scary to have had your daughter so close to the tragedy. Did she take care of any of the wounded?
Phil: She works in the neurological section, away from the emergency room. When the news broke via text messages, shock set in. Then Tufts Medical Center was evacuated — though no threat was found — and fear set in. Are hospitals targets? Overlooked, so far, are the people who stood their ground, not knowing if they were a target, to accept and treat the incoming maimed and wounded.
Ethan: Our first responders are remarkable — a place in our society where party affiliation just doesn’t matter. If only we all could see that our role should simply be to help others.
Phil: I used to be one. Lt. Harriman of the Yarmouth Fire Department saw enough — murder scene, arson, severe trauma car accidents — to know firsthand what it’s like to move into danger when everyone else is moving out. In those moments I was scared yet confident I knew how to help. And not one of the people I assisted, nor my fellow first responders, cared that I was a Republican.
Ethan: The biggest lesson I have learned from this tragedy is the importance of disaster preparedness. When I chaired a legislatively created homeland security task force, I traversed the state by helicopter, and it became clear that there was no way to protect every inch — every parade, school, port — from every evil person out there. But what you can do is make sure you are ready to respond. By saving the lives of as many people as they did, it appears Boston showed us exactly what that preparation can do.
Phil: I will say, my one disappointment was when I started hearing commentators opining that conservatives might have been responsible without a shred of evidence.
Ethan: Agreed. But are you as outraged that some commentators have opined that this was the work of an “Islamic fundamentalist” without a shred of evidence, as our good friend and radio host at WGAN, Mike Violette, said during our segment on Wednesday?
Phil: I get your point. However there is a big difference between someone on local talk radio saying something and someone on a national news broadcast sending it across America.
Ethan: I don’t think it should happen in either venue but I agree, the bigger the name, the bigger the responsibility. This issue also comes into play with people demanding that Obama call it “terrorism” before we understood whether the bombers had political motivation. A president must be much more careful with his words than the rest of us.
Phil: I also think of the people who spent months training in solitude for their Boston Marathon experience. Maine’s favorite daughter Joan Benoit-Samuelson ran, as this was the 30th anniversary of her march to the gold medal in the very first Women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angles. Now in her 50s, Joan ran sub 7-minute miles! The unknown terrorists now overshadow this memorable occasion. And what about the runners who were denied their opportunity to cross the finish line, receive their medal of completion and have an official time? So many untold stories and moments of achievement denied. Are you as angry as I am?
Ethan: Honestly, while I understand your point, the last thing I am thinking about is people who were denied the opportunity to get their official time. If this had happened at the Beach to Beacon, I would not expect anyone to feel sorry for me that I missed crossing the glory of beating my time. I imagine the 30th anniversary is the last thing Joan is thinking about.
Phil: Of course. My point is terrorists crave the power to take from us what makes America special. When they prevent us from celebrating history, freedom and individual accomplishment, and replace it with fear and a sense that a police state will keep us safer, terrorists are winning, not the runners. Not any of us.
Ethan: Well said.