Peace Activist Carlos Arredondo: It Was My Duty to Help Boston Bombing Victims

In 2004, Carlos Arredondo suffered a tragic loss.

On his birthday, he was informed that his eldest son, Lance Corporal Alexander S. Arredondo had been killed while serving in Iraq. Less than a year later, he and his family were hit with another tragedy — Arredondo’s younger son, Brian who had been coping with depression since the death of his older brother, committed suicide. After hearing about the death of his first son, Carlos Arredondo had attempted to take his own life, setting on fire the vehicle he was sitting in. After 9 months of recovery, Arredondo quit his job as a handyman and made it his occupation to become a full-time war protester. While he was still recovering in the hospital, the man had stated that he had no idea how he would ever feel better.

Nine years later, 52-year-old, Costa Rican born Arredondo, now an established peace activist and an active volunteer with the American Red Cross, has showcased his exceptional strength and positivity by helping victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. One of the most widely discussed images of the bombing — notable for its particular graphicness — portrays a badly injured young man, with both legs severed in a wheelchair, being rushed to medical help. This man was one of the people assisted by Arredondo, who says that he had rushed into the smoke and chaos driven by his instinct alone.

Arredondo’s assistance, though undoubtedly somewhat instinctual, must be attributed at least partially to a unique kind of bravery. After all, the most basic instinct in a situation such as this would be to run — away — not toward the disorder, despite the incredible work and help of many in the area. This distinctive courage, has led to many regarding him as a hero.

On Monday, Arredondo and his wife stood waiting for the last of the National Guard runners who represented an organisation dedicated to honor fallen marines since 9/11. One runner in particular was participating in honour of their son, while others ran to support a suicide awareness organization, a cause equally as close to their family. After the explosions, Carlos and his wife were separated, as he ran toward the commotion and was seen removing fallen debris and wreckage from victims who were unable to move. He used his own clothing and any material he could find to aid in halting excessive bleeding by victims, and offered verbal support and motivation.

Another widespread photograph portrays him soon afterward, holding up an American flag drenched in blood.

Throughout a plethora of interviews, calls, and questions from the press and the public, the father and husband maintained one common response; the one that he was "just doing [his] duty," calling on his former employment as a firefighter and rescuer for wounded bullfighters. Still despite his modesty, not everyone present that day felt that same so-called instinct to help. Everyone near to the incident had their reasons — to leave, or to stay.

Neither can be decisively defined as the "right" reaction. What can be inferred is that Arredondo’s resilience and his continued effort to help people, even after the devastating loss of his sons, is a story that can help to defeat loss of hope that commonly surrounds grievous events such as the Boston Marathon Bombing. This is what makes him a reluctant hero.