Carlos Arredondo, the Costa Rican immigrant described as a hero after the Boston bombing, said Tuesday in an interview with Efe that his instinct spurred him to help the victims, and warned that this tragedy must never be forgotten.
Though Boston is returning to normal, the April 15 attack remains a challenge and “it’s important to look ahead but also never to forget what happened in order to try and find solutions, to do what we can to help one another,” Arredondo said in a telephone interview from his home in Roslindale, Massachusetts.
The attack, which left three people dead and 282 injured, suddenly put him in the spotlight, though he says he acted from “instinct” and not from heroism.
“Hero, not exactly, because there were other people at the scene. I wasn’t the first who ran to help, there were doctors in the right place at the right time. My instinct pushed me to help and I joined a group doing rescue work, following instructions in the most orderly way possible,” Arredondo, 53, recalled.
Adrenaline plus his experience as a volunteer firefighter three decades ago and as a current volunteer with the Red Cross helped him know how to respond without hesitation to the attack at the finish line of the Boston marathon, he said.
Arredondo, who lost his son in combat in Iraq in 2004, recalled his conversation with President Barack Obama, when he came to an interfaith service in Boston last Thursday.
“I had the chance to speak with him and talk about my son, to tell him about the project of a federal building being christened with my son’s name. It was a very brief conversation but I wanted to let him know about a Marine hero, my son, who was from the city of Boston,” he said.
Cpl. Alexander Scott Arredondo was killed in combat in 2004, which left Carlos in the depths of despair.
Carlos even tried to set fire to himself inside the van of the Marines who came to tell him of his son’s death, an incident that became one of the emblematic images of the war.
His younger son, Brian Arredondo, committed suicide in 2011 after the death of Alexander.
Arredondo said he crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. undocumented and obtained citizenship in 2006, thanks to the help of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
The activist warned against the use of the Boston bombing to delay immigration reform.
“We are people who come here humbly to work, there are very few who come to do evil deeds. We’re mostly hard working people who are here to really contribute to the progress of the country,” he said.
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