The marathon is on

Selfless courage in the face of tragedy is simply how Americans roll

The Boston bombing seems intended to cut the legs out from under marathon runners – and perhaps from under this country.

But it’s not legs that carry runners or propel America. It’s spirit.

And like a marathoner’s, ours is relentless, determined and unflagging.

The cruel explosive devices filled with ball bearings and metal shards were intended for maximum harm to human flesh. And a number of runners and others lost their limbs in the brazen terrorist attack Monday.

It illustrates yet again how sick some people – and even entire belief systems – can be.

As investigators endeavor to follow the trail of blood to the source, this much we know: For whichever person or persons did this, hatred has replaced platelets in the blood, so they bleed for no one.

Whatever twisted ideas beset their miniature brains and fill their cold and craggy hearts has convinced them that killing innocents is the perfect way to leave their filthy mark in life – as scars and amputations on others.

Cowards. Savages. Gutless invertebrates. You probably think you were some kind of terror genius, picking on the happy, accomplished, peaceful and unsuspecting people who populate the Boston Marathon. But doggone it if you didn’t pick precisely the wrong time and place for this barbarity.

The streets of Boston, you see, were filled with some of the best this country has to offer. Runners with more mettle than can be detected. Their sturdy support networks lining the streets. First-responders and volunteers. Happy spectators celebrating the city’s cherished Patriots Day – in the birthplace of American audacity.

No jagged metal shards can pierce their spirit, or ours. And we stand with them.

That’s how we roll in this country.

Whatever reprobates crawled out from under a rock to injure, maim and kill good and innocent civilians at play and work, they represent the absolute worst of what humankind has spit out. If we don’t get you, the next life surely will. But here’s betting we do.

In contrast, the men, women and children who were attacked wholly without cause or justification represent some of the best of humanity – particularly those daring, caring individuals who dashed to the victims in seconds, utterly unmindful of the potential for more explosions.

That’s how we roll in this country.

As Todd Beamer said to his compatriots on Flight 93 that brisk September day in 2001, let’s roll.

This is not an exhortation to war, but rather to justice, order and, ultimately, peace.

The first step is an exhaustive, meticulous, ferocious search for the truth and the killers. Justice for the dead and injured.

But this is just one leg of a very long race. Wherever they come from, there are, and probably always will be, those who despise others – their happiness, their freedom, their accomplishments – more than they love life.

Since 9-11, we’ve stayed one step ahead of most of them. On Monday we stumbled.

But we will pick ourselves up again and hit our stride. It’s how we roll.

And it’s a marathon.

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