I am so happy to see proof that there are still heroes among us like Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat that so many of us saw in those first images of the Boston Marathon bombing.He reminds me a lot of my own father with his cowboy hat and his olive skin. Everyday men and women who run into the belly of the beast to save others when fear would catapult most off into the opposite direction. I don’t think any of us know what we would do in these extreme circumstance unless we find ourselves in the chaos. We would like to think that we would all do everything we could to help but unlike Carlos Arredondo many of us would instinctual run for safety. Self preservation is natural.This is how we survive as a species.
On Monday, Carlos Arredondo, a Cost Rican immigrant, and his wife, were sitting in the bleachers near the finish line at the Boston Marathon to honor their sons, Alexander Arredondo, a marine who was killed in the war in Iraq and his son, Brian, who committed suicide after years of depression and drug addiction that came after losing his brother. Carlos and his wife were there to greet the National Guard runners and a suicide support group, organizations that both honor their dead sons. On that day, Carlos Arredondo became my hero.
In 2004, on the day that Carlos learned of his son, Alexander’s, death, Carlos was celebrating his 44th birthday in Florida when the Marines approached his doorstep and notified him of the tragic news. Carlos was so overcome with grief that he locked himself in a van with five gallons of gasoline and a propane torch and set the van on fire. Even though 1/4th of his body was covered with second- and third-degree burns, he attended his son’s funeral on a stretcher.
He survived and Carlos Arredondo has dedicated his life to honoring the fallen and protesting the war since. He is a peace activist. He is a good man who has lost more than any father should ever lose in one lifetime. It is his life’s mission to bring all the troops home safely to their loved ones and end the war.
When the bombs exploded, instead of running the opposite direction for cover, Carlos Arredondo courageously ran towards the carnage. He ripped away the snow fence and scaffolding that separated him from the injured and he immediately started doing every thing he could to save the critically injured.
God protected Carlos, a trained Red Cross volunteer, as he ran into the pit of the explosion to selflessly help others. I am sure that he was thinking of his sons while running towards the wounded. As a parent, we do for others as we hope they would do for our children. I can only imagine that this must have reminded him of his son Alexander, who died in Iraq. I cannot imagine the thoughts going through his mind while he was running into the chaos like so many other helpers that day, when it would seem the natural instinct would be to run for safety. These heroes can be seen in this video running to help the injured.
This is the now iconic photo of a determined hero, Carlos Arredondo, that will forever remind me of the human spirit and the good in people. It is a photo of Arredondo pinching closed a severed artery of Jeff Bauman, who eventually lost both legs. Carlos tied a tourniquet around the man’s thigh and rushed him past the finish line to emergency help.Had it not been for Carlos Arredondo, it could have been much worse. The man could have lost his life. Carlos Arredondo wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Carlos used his clothes to keep victims from bleeding out. He jumped in with no concern for his own well-being. He only wanted to help others survive the devastation and get home to their own families. It was his natural instinct to do help others. Out of the ashes of this tragedy, a world hero was born in Carlos Arredondo.