America strong, forever united we stand

By Anne Davey, Staff Writer/Opinion Editor

April 24, 2013

In times of turmoil, it is all too easy to focus on the negative. It is natural to be scared, to be worried, to be shocked. Not since Sept. 11, 2001 has such an event struck our nation; a deliberate act of terrorism on one of the greatest cities in our nation, intended for maximum effect and harm. A true tragedy occurred last Monday, the day all of Boston came together for their annual city-wide day of joy and patriotism: the Boston Marathon.

We’ve all heard stories of the bombs, detonating 15 seconds apart right at the finish line, late that Monday afternoon. We’ve heard the terrible story of four deaths and nearly 200 injuries. We’ve seen the faces of the little boy who lost his life and of devastated marathon runners who were just shy of the finish line. What you have not heard, perhaps, are the stories of tremendous heroism and strength that occurred in the minutes after disaster struck.

Images emerged of off-duty U.S. soldiers in uniform, running toward the explosion, not away, lifting fences off of fallen runners and families, carrying injured spectators to emergency tents, risking their lives for those of others. Maybe you’ve heard about the dozens of marathon runners who kept going, after finishing an exhausting 26.2 miles, who went straight to local hospitals and emergency tents to donate blood for those in need. Exhausted, terrified and shocked, brave men and women sprung into action to do anything they could for others.

Google created a person finder app just minutes after cell service was shut down in and around Boston, to help loved ones reunite and friends find each other in the turmoil. There is a Google Doc file with hundreds and hundreds of names, addresses and phone numbers of people throughout Massachusetts, willing, able and looking to take in anyone who needs a place to stay in the area. Projected on the side of a New York City building were the words “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that – NY loves Boston,” a show of solidarity across state lines, echoing sentiments from across the nation. In the face of great tragedy and fear emerges the true American spirit.

There’s almost nothing like the burst of pride and emotion I get after such things occur. While bad is abundant, good is too. In the face of evil, great strength emerges. There is something so uniquely American about our response to such tragedy; we are not broken, we do not fall, but rather we stand together, putting back the pieces and amazing the world with our solidarity. Call me a patriot, but it is in terrible times like these that I am proudest to be an American, and that my heart swells with joy, pride and faith in our great nation.

This knowledge should unite us all, no matter what the coming years have in store. Senior or freshman, your journey here at High Point University will only prepare you for what lies ahead, but know that sometimes things are not so certain. You may not have a job, or a life plan, but you do have the American Dream, the freedom and family to achieve it.

Though nothing is assured, we may not know why, or how someone could do such a thing to us, what is assured is our reaction, how we respond and stay strong in the face of anything that seeks to bring us down. Assured is the resilience of this American nation, the charity of our citizens and the hope in our future. It is with that knowledge that we must embrace our futures, be ready for the challenges ahead, and keep the American spirit alive in all of us.

Seniors, you’re leaving your comfort zone here at HPU, and many of you may be going into the real world, to work, to live and to raise a family, perhaps in a city like Boston. Remember always the family you have here at HPU, and the insurmountable strength we have when we stand together. You will face great odds, but never forget the incredible strength that comes from pain. Be proud to be an American, always work hard, leave a legacy, and count your blessings.