Darrell Huckaby: In the wake of tragedy, America must unite

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I had such a warm and wonderful column planned for today; a story of effervescence and light -- all about hope and the dignity of the human spirit. That story will have to be postponed until Sunday because I always am compelled to write my heart, and my heart is heavy today -- the light of hope replaced by the darkness of evil.

I was leaving a home improvement store, having reluctantly accompanied my lovely wife, Lisa, on a mission to find paving stones with which to line her newly constructed flower beds. I say reluctantly because she and I have a hard time agreeing on just about anything that involves taste and style. On this day we had surprisingly agreed that we had seen nothing that suited us and were leaving the premises when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. It wasn't a short burst -- which would have indicated that someone was sending me a text. It was three short bursts, which meant a weather alert or breaking news from WSB.

It was breaking news. On Patriots Day in Boston, two bombs had been detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

To quote the late Royal Marshall, "Just damn!"

I was immediately sick at my stomach. I didn't know how many lives had been lost; I didn't know how many hundreds of people had been injured. At that moment I only knew that one of the most joyous events of the year in one of our nation's great cities -- the very Cradle of Liberty, in fact -- had been visited by evil and that the peaceful countenance of this entire nation had been shattered -- again.

I tried to put my thoughts about the incident aside and for a few hours I was able to go about my business. After supper, however, I gave in and placed myself in front of the television set and began watching the wall-to-wall coverage from Boston.

It was horrible. Over and over and over, the networks showed the same footage. Runners crossing the finish line in exhaustive triumph. A big explosion. People looking around in confusion and then shock. One runner being knocked to the street by the impact of the concussion. White smoke billowing toward the sky. Then the sound of another blast. More confusion. People running away from the blast area and people, many in uniform, running toward the danger. That one young lady, wrapped in some kind of flag or blanket, dazed and confused, being led away from the scene.

Once again, terror has reached our shores. And don't tell me to wait before I call it terror. Certainly it was a terrorist attack, whether the perpetrator was foreign or home-grown, whether he was Muslim or Christian or Jew or none of the above, whether he was acting out of religious ideology or pure meanness -- this was a hideous, cowardly act of pure evil, meant to kill and maim and terrorize and disrupt our lives. The person -- or persons -- behind this heinous crime succeeded on all counts.

I have invited 50 people to accompany me to Boston next month and within hours of the first news I began receiving calls and emails and texts wondering if this attack would deter me from going ahead with my planned trip. I cannot speak for my fellow travelers, but my response to those who asked about own intentions was "Absolutely not." I will not cower before these villains. I will continue to live my life as a free American as long as there is a free America.

As I tried to sleep last night I couldn't get the image of 8-year-old Martin Richard out of my mind. Martin and his family were in Copley Square to watch the runners finish the marathon Monday and to simply celebrate life. They had gone to get ice cream and had just returned to the area near the finish line of the big race when the explosion occurred. Martin was killed. His mother is in critical condition, reportedly suffering severe brain trauma. His 7-year-old sister was also critically wounded and some reports say she lost a leg in the explosion.

I know the bomber is really proud of himself. It takes a really courageous warrior to kill an 8-year-old from ambush and severely injure a defenseless woman and a 7-year-old little girl.

Angry? Yes, I am angry -- especially because we have no idea, as of yet, who this faceless coward might be.

But we'll find out. We have to find out.

Somehow, someway we, the people of this once-great nation, simply have to quit asking ourselves, "What can this country do for me," and unite -- one and all -- and work together to become the United States of America that we were on Dec. 8, 1941. We simply must become one nation under God -- or we will cease to be a nation at all.

Our enemies are among us, and we are in danger of losing the war that we are not even willing to acknowledge -- much less wage.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.