Terror too close

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 19:00

Terror hit too close to home Monday, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

More than 40 Alaskans — including three from Chugiak-Eagle River — signed up for this year’s event, arguably the world’s most famous footrace. In the minutes after the attack, people around the world and right here at home were gripped with fear for their friends, family and loved ones potentially in harm’s way.

Fortunately for our community, all three local marathoners — Jacob Bera, Katie Heath and Sarah Hurkett — were uninjured in the attacks that killed three people and injured 170.

For the safety of these three community members, we couldn’t be more thankful. But we can’t help but feel a profound sense of sadness and heartbreak at the fact that such a positive and healthy event was marred by an act of unspeakable horror.

Bera — a popular and well-known teacher at Eagle River High School — was catching a nap in his hotel room when the blasts occurred. For what had to have been agonizing minutes, his family and friends here in Alaska was left to wonder about his safety. It’s likely thousands of people across the country were left with the same helpless feeling as they frantically tried to reach runners and spectators in Boston.

Eagle River High principal Marty Lang told the Star his school was filled with a sense of relief when news arrived that Bera was safe. Teachers spread the word to their anxious students, some of whom had just minutes earlier exalted in Bera’s first career Boston Marathon finish.

Our hearts go out to those whose stories didn’t turn out as well, especially those who lost loved ones in the attacks. There are no words to describe the depth of sadness we feel for the senseless deaths and dismemberments of so many innocent people.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, this country — and the world as a whole — pulled together as one. A common refrain heard in the days and weeks after that terrible day was “We are all Americans,” and for some time there truly was a sense that differences of religion, race or politics didn’t really matter when confronted with pure evil.

We saw much of that same spirit in the immediate aftermath of the Boston attack. First responders rushed to the scene without fear. Exhausted marathoners raced to hospitals to give blood. Donations poured into charities.

The outpouring of support for victims again proved that the United States is not really such a divided nation, but a close-knit community whose differences are far less meaningful than our common humanity.

In the years after Sept. 11, we’ve become a more polarized and politicized nation once again. Debates over everything from gun control to taxes threaten the very fabric and solidarity of our great nation, and it often seems like we’re living in a country divided,

As we pray for those lost in the most recent attacks — and thank God for the safety of our community members — let’s also hope the spirit of togetherness that has arisen from this latest tragedy does not soon fade.

Let’s all be Americans once again.

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