"Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope"

"Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope"

This Martin Luther King Jr. quote was from his "I Have a Dream Speech" in 1963, when he spoke of the prospects of racial equality. I bring it to you now in the context of the brief period of terror we have experienced in this country in the past week.


As you all know by now, on Monday, April 15th, two explosions went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and ended up killing three people and injuring over 100. These explosions have since been identified as a terrorist attack on the U.S. My best friend from growing up, Lauryn, had posted on her Facebook that she and some of her friends from her a capella group were going to be volunteering at the Boston Marathon on Sunday, the 14th. When I heard the news about the explosions, I did not know whether Lauryn was still volunteering there or not. I was on the phone with my mom and I told her to let me call Lauryn really quick to see if she was safe. I called Lauryn twice and she did not answer. I called Lauryn's mom, who was in Miami, and I was the second one to tell her about the explosions at the Marathon. She hung up with me quickly and called Lauryn what must have been 20 times before Lauryn finally answered saying that she was safe and that she had not been at the Marathon that day. That was the most scared I have been during an attack like this because I knew that my best friend was in the same area of Massachusetts, and possibly in the vicinity of the bombs. I had never been scared for the lives of anyone I know personally like that during any other attack because most of them have been in cities where I do not have friends or family. The first or second week I arrived in D.C., I made two new friends that are both from Boston - Meg and AJ. Both of them had their eyes glued to the news on the television, their computers, and their phones, watching, listening, and waiting to see if their friends and families were safe.


That was the "mountain of despair" part. Now for the "stone of hope." Almost all the words coming from the news anchors and the images displayed on our television screens were those describing and illustrating how the people of Boston had come together as one and were helping each other survive this attack on the Marathon. Strangers helping strangers, the wounded helping the severely wounded, people running for help and giving up their shirts to serve as tourniquets for people who had lost limbs or were bleeding profusely. Marathoners who had just run 26.2 miles completed the race, and then ran two more miles to the nearest hospital to donate blood. So many people volunteered to donate that the hospitals had to turn people away. The whole city rose up and collectively let the rest of the world know that they were not broken, that this event had only made them stronger. The immense pride that came from my Bostonian friends emanated through their typed and spoken words, and I felt proud to know them and to know that they would have done the same as their fellow Bostonians in this horrendous situation. Faith in humanity had been somewhat restored. Hundreds of police helped ensure that the wounded would get to hospitals safely, and secured the area in case any other blast occurred. Two more bombs were found and disassembled or destroyed before they could harm any more people. The FBI and the ATF worked tirelessly for days to procure photographs of the suspects and sorted through thousands of tips that may help them find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.


While all of this was happening, I was at my job, interning at Interpol, listening to employees talk about the news and provide any help they could to the agencies directly associated with this investigation. At that moment, I felt extremely proud to be a part of the criminal justice system. An extremely small part, but a teeny tiny cog in the machine that was helping solve this case, nonetheless. "This is what I want to do," I thought. I want to help bring people to justice; I want to restore some kind of semblance of balance to the worlds of the people that were nearly shattered by this incident.


One of the days that week, while in the lunch room with three other interns, someone came in and told us that there was a bomb threat at a nearby building. This was after they had already closed down the Senate building that I had been in the week before because of a letter addressed to a senator that contained ricin, an extremely poisonous substance. That was when it hit me that I was in a prime city for some kind of unwanted incident to occur. I have never been afraid to ride the metrorail because of an attack; I have visited the outside of the White House several times without feeling any kind of fear some kind of terrorist incident was on its way. But there was something about knowing that there was a bomb threat right outside my building that made this reality very obvious to me in that moment.


The knowledge about the agencies that protect us in the case of any kind of attack or incident that I have gained from being here in Washington is what made me feel better almost instantly. Being an intern at Interpol, I have had in-depth conversations with employees from the FBI, the Secret Service, the US Marshals, and other agencies, that makes me trust this country's ability to protect its citizens. I have gone on field trips to the Secret Service training facility and headquarters, and the ATF Fire Research Laboratory and Canine Training Facility as a result of being a part of TWC and a part of Interpol. Having insider knowledge about these agencies and organizations only confirmed my belief that this is the kind of work I want to do, and that this kind of career will be rewarding for myself, but it will especially be rewarding to the people I help keep safe every day.


So, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said 50 years ago, "With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood." And with this faith that we can now have in each other and in the people whose job it is to keep us safe, we can live our lives knowing that we are not alone, and that togetherness is the key to surviving any situation.


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