Editorial - Horror, lies and resolve rise out of marathon
Of all the gripping details of the Boston Marathon bombings, one image is especially hard to shake. CNN reported it: "One man's legs were blown off, and he kept trying to stand up."
As disturbing as it is, it encapsulizes the horror of that afternoon, how surreal things became, how unfathomable, how cruel. It also speaks to the determination of the human spirit -- how we try so hard to keep going, no matter what.
And that's what we have to do now. Move forward. Find out who is responsible and make sure, as President Obama vowed, that whoever committed this evil, cowardly act will "feel the full weight of justice."
What we don't need is to leap to conclusions about who did it and why, when there is no factual evidence yet to back up any such claims.
It's human nature to speculate, to make assumptions, bend the truth to how we want to view it. But that doesn't make it right.
In the bombings' aftermath, it didn't take long for misinformation to start floating around, as it does when big news breaks. As effective as social media can be for getting information out, it also helps spread falsehoods and rumors like never before. CNN's Doug Gross reported about this, listing stories that have gone viral on the Internet about the Boston attacks that aren't true.
One is about a photo of a man in a red shirt kneeling on the ground, cradling a woman in his arms. The false story that went with it was that the man had planned to propose to the girlfriend as he crossed the finish line but she passed away. The truth is, the man was simply comforting an injured woman.
Another photo of a little girl made the rounds on the Internet, claiming that she was running for the victims of Sandy Hook when she was killed. It turns out the girl was competing in an entirely different race for an entirely different cause.
Another lie, this one from a Twitter account, claimed it would donate $1 to the victims for every retweet it received. It was a fake.
Some other falsehoods involve whacko conspiracy theories about who is responsible for the attack. The truth is, no one knows yet, or as Gross put it, "Anyone saying they know what happened at this point is making it up."
In the days ahead, as the investigation moves forward and more definitive answers emerge, people should refrain from adding to the social media gossip mill.
Instead, they can appreciate the time they have with family and friends. They can take a lesson from the horrible events of April 15 to realize how fleeting life can be and to not take tomorrow for granted. They shouldn't let this tragedy fill them with fear, but rather a resolve to live life to the fullest.
We could all take a cue from Brett Larson, an organizer of a local running group in Alexandria and a three-time marathoner, himself. He offered insights into the Boston bombings in his blog, White Line Running:
"An act of evil by a true coward has given cause to a nation of running people. Runners embody the spirit of America. I think you will see more people coming out to support charitable causes in the form of local races. I think you will see communities transformed by the goodness of many with a new resolve to overcome the darkness of a few. I think you will see a country rally around the tragic death of an 8-year-old-boy named Martin Richard, the city of Boston rise from the ashes, and our most famous race return to glory like never before.
"We are reminded constantly that life is fragile...Today, hug your kids a little tighter and seize every opportunity to serve your neighbor and share your light with the world around you. Hold on tight to the promises of hope but don't look to the future at the expense of missing the gift of the moments you have here and now."