The Man With The Cowboy Hat
Today for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings I walked past the Arredondos' house. On the poles in the postage stamp-sized backyard, the flags (one American, one Veterans for Peace) were at half-mast, waving gently in the breeze above a "War Is Not The Answer" sign.Carlos' pickup truck was parked in the short driveway. Everyone in Roslindale---a quiet neighborhood in the southwestern part of Boston---knows Carlos' truck. It's brightly decorated with flags, peace signs, and the names of his two sons: Lance Corporal Alex Arredondo, killed in action on August 25, 2004 during his second tour of duty in the Iraq War, and Brian Arredondo, who died on December 19, 2011. Brian committed suicide, having never recovered from his older brother's death.Most people at Sacred Heart (the Arredondos' parish) and in Roslindale also know that Carlos bears the scars of that war and those deaths on his body, as well as his soul. When Carlos first got news of Alex' death, he became distraught and set himself on fire with a can of gasoline and a propane torch, suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 25% of his body.Since recovering, Carlos has worked tirelessly as a peace activist, reminding us of the horrible costs of war and traveling far and wide spreading the gospel of peace and patriotism. That's what he was doing at the Boston Marathon finish line last week when the bombs went off.There Carlos got to do for Jeff Bauman what he couldn't do for his sons, what others had done for him nine years ago: save his life. According to numerous reports, The Man With The Cowboy Hat (most neighbors know Carlos' hat too) scaled the barricades, put out the fire burning on Bauman's shirt, tied a tourniquet around one of Bauman's legs, and helped rush him to emergency care.Bauman, according to the FBI, then played a key role from his hospital bed in identifying the Tsarlaev brothers as the suspected culprits, helping---it seems likely---to save additional lives.What does this all mean? I have no idea. I hope, at the very least, it means Carlos can sleep more easily than he has for the past decade, that he can know deep down in his soul that his living and his ministry of peace has not been in vain.
About the Author
Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons.