I shudder to think how many trees will die as we in my business spend countless days, weeks, and months trying to figure out why the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly repaid all the good will in this country with bombs.
I believe this journalistic and societal pursuit of the “why” is absolutely necessary as much as I believe it is entirely pointless. The idea that we can figure out why a resentful, angry young man and his stoner little brother would purposely kill and maim innocent human beings and somehow learn from this a way to dramatically reduce the prospect of it recurring, strikes me as hopelessly idealistic.
The younger of the Tsarnaev brothers told federal agents his big brother’s radicalization was rooted in his opposition to US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hey, I opposed those wars, too. I thought going into Iraq was unnecessary, that the justification for it was bogus, that the amount of blood spilled, both Iraqi and American, was not worth whatever the people who pushed for the war wanted to achieve. If we had a draft, if everybody had to go fight that war, including the kids and grandkids of the big shots in Washington, we never would have fought that war.
Afghanistan? Don’t get me started. The initial incursion, after 9/11, was absolutely necessary. Afghanistan was like spring training for terrorists who want to kill us. But we should have found, killed, or captured bin Laden and got the hell out. Diving into Iraq made that task far more difficult. Trying to drag Afghanistan into the 20th, much less the 21st, century with Western standards is a hopeless task. They’ll evolve at their own pace.
But enough about unnecessary wars and unrealistic nation building. Let’s be honest here. The ideology reportedly claimed by the likes of the Tsarnaev brothers as reason enough to kill and maim innocent Americans, not to mention innocent Muslims, predates the misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first attack on the World Trade Center was in 1993. The people who do this stuff will find any and all reasons to hate and kill Americans and other nonbelievers. I really don’t want to spend much of my limited brain power trying to figure out how to appease the unappeasable.
You may have noticed I’m not using the Tsarnaev brothers’ first names. That’s because I’m in the process of forgetting them. I don’t want to remember their names. I want them to vanish from my memory bank, which is too busy trying to remember the names that matter.
First and foremost, I want to remember Martin Richard and Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu.
Martin was a beautiful boy, who was kind to all his classmates, including the daughter of Sean O’Brien, one of the firefighters from Engine 7 who rushed to find little Martin lying dead next to his badly injured mother, Denise, and sister Janey, an Irish step dancer who lost part of her leg. Krystle Campbell was a kind young woman who was everybody’s best friend: She was a bridesmaid 17 times. Lingzi Lu, a graduate student from China, embraced all the opportunities the Tsarnaev brothers spurned.
I want to remember the names of O’Brien and the other firefighters from Engine 7 and Tower Ladder 17, who rushed to the wounded even as they assumed they would die in secondary explosions. I want to remember Lieutenant Joe Roach from Ladder 15 on Boylston Street, who waved off any talk about how brave he and his firefighters were by talking about the courage of the injured.
I want to remember the names of Jimmy Hooley and his EMTs and paramedics from the city’s Emergency Medical Services, who saved lives by stabilizing and transporting dozens of badly injured people to all the hospitals.
I want to remember the names of the injured, like Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the blast but not his ability to identify the bombers.
I want to remember the names of all the Boston cops, including the policewomen from District 4, who ignored every natural instinct and ran toward the bombs.
I want to remember Dan Linskey, chief of the Boston police, who rushed headlong to help one of his officers, Jared Gero, as he ripped the clothes from the mortally wounded bomber to make sure he wasn’t wearing a booby trap.
“Don’t forget Carlos Arredondo,” Linskey told me. Carlos lost a son, a Marine, in one of those unnecessary wars. But Carlos refocused his grief, became a pacifist who helps military families, and when those bombs went off, Carlos went flying over the barriers to get to the wounded.
How can I, how can any of us, ever forget Carlos in his cowboy hat, holding Jeff Bauman’s femoral artery so he wouldn’t bleed to death?
I want to remember Sean Collier, the idealistic young MIT police officer who was assassinated by a pair of morons who killed him for his gun and then were too stupid to figure out how to get it out of his holster.
I want to remember the Watertown cops: Joe Reynolds, who first spotted the alleged bombers; his supervisor Sergeant John MacLellan, who returned fire with Reynolds and had the wherewithal to let his cruiser drift toward the suspects, and succeeded in getting one of them to empty his gun into the empty vehicle; Sergeant Jeff Pugliese, who had the presence of mind to run through some backyards, outflank the older Tsarnaev brother, and take him down with some expertly aimed shots.
I want to remember the names of all the cops who cornered the Tsarnaev brothers, including MBTA police Officer Dick Donohue, who may well have been felled by friendly fire. I want to remember all the cops who sprang to Donohue’s side and saved his life, like Cambridge patrolman James “Matt” Brown, the first officer to reach Donohue and pull him to safety.
I want to remember Boston police Officer Ricky Moriarty, firing at the suspects at one point, doing CPR on Donohue moments later. I want to remember state trooper Chris Dumont, a paramedic, and the two Watertown firefighters, Pat Menton and Jimmy Caruso, who together kept Dick Donohue alive.
I want to remember FBI agent John Foley, who stayed on the street for days until the bitter end, and Billy Evans, the Boston police commander who got them to stop firing at the boat and ensured that one of the suspects would live and fill in the blanks.
I want to remember all those names. And I want to see Janey Richard dance again.
As for the alleged bombers, and their nutty mother, the sooner I forget them, the better.
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.