Since that day -- Sept. 11, 2001 -- we have been told to be vigilant, to be aware of what is going on around us at all times. Nothing is too small to notice.
And yet the news still stuns us. It should. It always should. Because the day it doesn't is the day we lose.
News of twin explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday opened wounds we thought had healed from that tragic day nearly a dozen years ago. Three dead, nearly 200 injured, Band-Aid ripped off.
But there is no question America remains vulnerable despite the best efforts of citizens, law enforcement officials and government leaders. It remains vulnerable because of the very freedoms we enjoy so much make it that way. Americans will gather to watch sporting events and concerts, gather for political rallies and events, because we are free to go where, and do what, we want.
Even after Oklahoma City and Atlanta and 9/11, we gathered. Today we are once again reminded that freedom comes at a price. We are also reminded that many fellow citizens are willing to pay that price.
On Monday as smoke billowed and debris flew in all directions, as many people ran toward the destruction as ran from it. Race officials, emergency and law enforcement personnel, members of the National Guard all offered immediate help. So did people without badges, just everyday people out for a brilliant spring day with their family, enjoying a century-old tradition in one of the country's most historic cities.
Competitors, many of whom had already run 26.2 miles, kept on running to the nearest hospital to donate blood. The Red Cross said Tuesday "thanks to the generosity of volunteer blood donors, there is currently enough blood the shelves to meet demand." The Red Cross, however, also encouraged volunteers to continue to donate to keep the supply available. People can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.
The Salvation Army is offering food and needed counseling to first responders and victims of the tragedy. Visit donate.salvationarmyusa.org to find out how to help.
It is in times like these were the true spirit of America comes out. We return to church with hopes of finding some sort of meaning of it all. We hug our kids tighter. We bond together and find answers and hope those answers stop the next attack.