As the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing draws near, the news media is reporting that homegrown terrorist Dzhokar Tsarnaev has confessed to authorities that he and his now-deceased older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned the tragic bombing in which four people were killed and 260 more wounded. Hopefully, the media will also focus on the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing, including Jeff Bauman, who triumphed over tragedy and is walking again with the help of two prosthetic limbs. Mr. Bauman, who lost both his legs in the attack, provided information to law enforcement officials that helped them identify the Tsaraev brothers. Now engaged to pregnant girlfriend Erin Hurley, he has published a memoir, Stronger, which details the event and its aftermath.
Stronger recounts Bauman’s seeing the elder Tsarnaev brother near the finish line and remembering him because he appeared to be “all business.” Bauman writes that he thought that Tamerlan looked suspicious and regrets not having tried to try to stop him or alert authorities about him, wondering if he could have prevented the attack.
In spite of Bauman’s protestations, he is a hero nonetheless. While he was being carried into the ambulance following the bombing, he stated to officials that he knew who was responsible and shared his description of Tamerlan Tsarnaev with them. He also told them about a backpack he had seen Tamerlan Tsarnaev put down just before it exploded. Just four days after the bombing, the information he had given them resulting in the killing of one Tsarnaev brother and the wounding of another. According to police, the Tsarnaevs had planned to travel to New York City and detonate another pressure-cooker bomb in Times Square.
In Stronger, Bauman writes that he believes that Tamerlan took advantage of his younger brother, who was only nineteen at the time of the attack, writing that ‘the victim of [Tamerlan’s] hatred and cowardice, in the end, was his own brother.’
Bauman had been waiting at the finish line for his girlfriend to finish the marathon when the bomb went off. His dramatic rescue at the hands of three other people was immortalized in a famous photograph. In fact, his own family first became aware that he was a bombing victim because of this photograph, in which he is being taken from the scene in a wheelchair, with a bone clearly visible sticking out of his thigh.
After the surviving brother was apprehended, Bauman began to work on his recovery in earnest. Besides losing his lower limbs, he also had severe burns on his back and under his eyes. In the immediately aftermath of the attack, Bauman slept little. In his book he writes, ‘Maybe it would be better if I didn’t remember [the attack] so clearly, because once you’ve seen something like that, you don’t sleep. I’m not sure I’ll ever sleep well again.’
Bauman is looking forward to his wedding with Erin and to his first child. The couple had begun dating again only two weeks prior to the marathon, having dated previously in the year and then broken up. Erin insisted on becoming Bauman’s caregiver after the attack and quit her job in order to do so.
In the meantime, this American hero has been taking leave from his employment at a New Hampshire Costco and mastering his prosthetic limbs, which are fatiguing and often painful. By now he can walk with the aid of a single crutch.
New Yorkers will never know which of them were spared on account of his observant eye. It behooves them and all Americans to meditate on how often the best among of us have had to sacrifice some portion of ourselves for the good of our fellow citizens. As long as the Baumans live, they should be honored as ambassadors of triumph in the face of overwhelming defeat. His story should inspire us all. It certainly inspires me.
Thomas Davis – NEWSslinger Contributor