Staff Editorial: Heroic actions unite people during tragedies

By Duke Staff

On April 16, 2007, a gunman shot through the halls of Virginia Tech, killing 33 and injuring 23.

On April 15 a year ago, a bomb detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing five and injuring 260.

On April 9 at Franklin Regional High School, 22 people were stabbed less than a half an hour away from campus.

Although these incidents vary and in no way should be considered equal in loss, a common thread unites the tragedies and the people involved: heroes.

The Franklin Regional boy who saved a fellow student by taking a knife in the back to protect her. The modest medic who has saved more than a few lives in his lifetime in Boston. The professor who sacrificed his life to allow students the chance to escape at Virginia Tech.

You’ve read the tribute a thousand times but that doesn’t make these people’s lives and roles any less important. While we may not always have the necessary heroes to predict such tragedies and prevent all of them, we do have another set of heroes that are of paramount importance in any case.

There are the heroes in the moment who sacrifice everything for the safety of a stranger. Whether they’ve worked in the medical field for years or they are reacting on instinct, these individuals can often times be the most critical in saving another’s life.

Then there are the paragons who offer themselves after the fact: the medical practitioner who works overtime, the individuals who run again in marathons in the memory and charity of the victims. These citizens are aware that although the trauma is over, the battle is nowhere near an end. We need this community just as much as we need those at the scene of the tragedy.

Because when the incident is over and those injured have physically healed, our society is still reeling. Some never heal from these traumatic experiences. As a nation, we must continue to come together. The moment we forget about the dates and names of those who have lost their innocent lives is the moment we as a nation have failed ourselves.

No matter if it’s half way across the country or down the road, an aunt, a sister or a fellow classman, these tragedies will continue to affect our society no matter how many precautions we take to stop them. If last week was the first time you were personally affected by a tragedy then consider it a reason to act, not a reason to cower in fear.

There is nothing stopping you from being a hero.