The state of our union

Story by Taylor Kuether, Managing Editor

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Last week sucked. Monday was both Patriot’s Day in Boston and the famous running of the Boston Marathon — it was meant to be a day of camaraderie and American spirit but was turned into a day of terror and uncertainty.

That uncertainty hung over our heads for the rest of the week until Friday night’s capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -— but even then it wasn’t over. It’s still not over.

As soon as we learned the Tsarnaev brothers were from war-torn Chechnya with supposed links to the al-Qaida terrorist group, it seemed we could blame this on someone, somewhere else. But we can’t.

The Tsarnaev brothers were legal, naturalized citizens of the United States (Dzhokhar became a U.S. citizen in September and older brother Tamerlan’s citizenship application was pending at the time of his death). Effectively, they bombed their own country and their own city.

This is no different from the terrorism we’ve endured at the hands of our fellow Americans countless times over the past year. In July, James Holmes killed 12 and injured another 58 people who simply wanted to see a movie that night in Aurora, Colo.

In December, a masked gunman took two lives at a Portland, Ore. shopping mall while families were doing their Christmas shopping. And, unforgettably, just days later Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Movie theaters. Shopping malls. Elementary schools. And now, at one of the ultimate presentations of the endurance and tenacity of the human spirit: marathons. How much more terror can we take?

Like the rest of my country, I’ve been following coverage of the Boston bombings intently, including, of course, Friday’s day-long manhunt, which was unlike anything else most of us have ever witnessed in our lifetimes.

Along with Boston, we felt the fear, the insecurity, the confusion and the disarming lack of clarity for an entire week, ending finally with triumph, the feeling of a wrong being made right and a killer being brought to justice.

Except … a wrong has not been made right. And nothing will ever be “right” until Americans stop inflicting pain, suffering and tragedy intentionally onto other Americans.

Now, I’ll be honest: I’m not an overly patriotic person. I appreciate a Fourth of July parade and fireworks show and I’ll belt out Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” with pride, but I’m not driving around in a souped-up pickup truck emblazoned with eagles soaring across a backdrop of American flags (lookin’ at you, Jed).

That’s not patriotism, that’s arrogance. That’s the pompous assumption that our country is, untouchably, the best, the strongest, the most powerful.

True patriotism is the generosity, love and brotherhood America responds with each time it faces a setback.

There is no triumph in bringing a killer to justice, only closure. The real triumph is how our country reacts each and every time we face tragedy: we unite.

It’s in our name. It’s what we do. And I’m proud of that, but I wish we could get to a point where tragedy upon our country isn’t ever perpetrated by the hands of our fellow Americans.

But I fear that this is where we are now, and we can’t come back.

 

 

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