Grace Under Pressure: Those Exceptional Americans

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an on-going series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously  make positive differences in their own lives and consequently in the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes reside among us and that they serve as  quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours, too.

130417214841-boston-campbell-nurse-story-top“I’m a nurse, and I’m going to take good care of you.” These are likely the last words spoken to Boston Marathon bombing victim,  Krystle Campbell.  Nurse Stephen Segatore was on Boylston Street near the finish line volunteering his time to tend to the needs of runners who ran in the international race. First responders brought the near lifeless body of Campbell, age  29 , to Segatore. The MassBay Community College student, who also managed a restaurant, wasn’t breathing and her face was streaked with black powder marks indicating she was very near the blast site. Realizing she was in dire straits, Segatore, a physician, and another healthcare professional commenced a grueling ten minute attempt at CPR. Because the wounds were so severe even that heroic effort would not be successful.  A cardiac monitor showed her heart wasn’t pumping blood. Campbell was the only one of scores of  unexpected patients that Segatore worked on that day who expired.

Segatore saw a photograph of Krystle the next day and immediately recognized her from her freckles and distinctive blueg12c0000000000000007185a18780a7fbb03bd6c7bb2f66318f1674a6ea eye shadow.  Those facial features reminded Segatore of his own daughter. That realization led him to approach the press with a message to Krystle’s parents.  “I want them to know she was not alone when she died,” he said. “We did everything we could to save her, but her wounds were too great.” Campbell didn’t suffer long either. “I don’t think she lingered. I don’t think she suffered,” he said. “If it were my daughter, I would want to know that.”

Segatore represents hundreds of police, fire, health care professionals, military personnel and just ordinary Americans who ran towards the bomb blast ignoring the international terrorist adage to “take cover, there may be another.”  There was and still they came. Omit that heroism and you assuredly have many more fatalities. There was something else too. The sense of compassion and community was as real as the horror inflicted by the bomb that day.

Many people  decry American exceptionalism and blame that perceived  haughtiness for all manner of international  ills.  But after viewing the actions of those Americans of every race and creed who ran into harm’s way to save their fellows with no regard for their own safety, and all the while knowing the risks involved, how else can you describe them except as “exceptional”?

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

26 thoughts on “Grace Under Pressure: Those Exceptional Americans

  1. You’re right that so many acted to help others rather than run away. I can’t help but think of those who have gone to help the victims of drone attacks, or the helicopter attack exposed, allegedly, by Bradley Manning. While those of whom you speak may be exceptional, it isn’t because they are American, they just happen to be American.

  2. I like the topic. One must not confuse “exceptional Americans” with America the Exceptional Country. We embarked on that later trek after WWII. The Russians wanted to simply identify the bad Nazis and other non Nazi but nevertheless German war criminals and shoot them without trial. We insisted on the Nuremburg War Trials. We invited the French in to particiopate but did not prosecute any culpable Frogs from the Vichy Government. By insisting on this and by implementing an international law, we did so on the premise that America the Beautiful had become America the Exceptional.
    Now, Cheney and Bush dont want the world to recall the Nuremburg Trials or the international law established there. A drone which kills an innocent is by any other name an American warplane that just killed some kids in a village in Afghanistan or Yemen. We can say that Well those are terrorist territories and this is the only way to kill al Qaeda. But that familiy in Afghanistan is no different that those families in Boston today who lost loved ones to some bomber.

    Saturday Night Live, 30 years ago made fun of those who wanted war:
    Bomb, bomb, bomb,
    Bomb bomb Iraaan.
    Oh, Bomb Iraaaan
    I’ll take my staaaand!
    Rockin and a rollin rockin and a reelin
    Bomb Iran

    There are kids in Checknia or however ya spull it who are singing a similar song today. There are people grieving in Afghanistan over dead kids who wish that America the Exceptional was not so myopic or short sighted.

    Rockin an a rollin.

    Just a dog here. Dont mind me.

  3. Many folks exemplified many acts of humanity that sad day in Boston….. Thanks Mark….

    The only side commentary….. Something called the Soxs’ are in first place….. I hate when that happens….

  4. Great story Mark. It reminds me of a school bus and train crash in Fox River Grove in the 1990’s I believe, when a nurse held one of the victims from the school bus in her arms and stayed with that child to the end. Sad story, but a good one at the same time.

  5. mespo:

    good story.

    “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
    Or close the wall up with our English dead!
    In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
    As modest stillness and humility,
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger:
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
    Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage;
    Then lend the eye a terrible aspect:
    Let it pry through the portage of the head
    Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
    As fearfully as doth a gallèd rock
    O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
    Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
    Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
    Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
    To his full height! On, on, you noble English,
    Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
    Fathers that like so many Alexanders
    Have in these parts from morn till even fought
    And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
    Dishonor not your mothers; now attest
    That those whom you called fathers did beget you!
    Be copy now to men of grosser blood
    And teach them how to war! And you, good yeomen,
    Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
    The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
    That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not,
    For there is none of you so mean and base
    That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.”

  6. Thanks again, Mark. All people, no matter the country, have a good # of folks who step up in times like this. The negatives of this world just don’t see it. Too bad for them. And, it’s not always traumatic events. If you live in a snow area think of how neighbors and strangers step up to help others. We have a few seniors in our neighborhood incapable of snow removal. We all just step up and clear their driveway and sidewalk. No big deal like this, but just being good people. People are basically honest and good; and you sir, get that.

  7. Having been brought to Emergency Rooms many times in life threatening situations and having accompanied loved ones many times in their time of need, I can attest to the work of ER personnel and the comfort one feels when they are on the job.

  8. “Exceptionalism” is a nationalistic self-righteousness of the type that the Aryan NAZI officials fostered.

    That essence should not be conflated with exceptional individuals in all walks of life.

    Because the latter is not the result of being a citizen of any particular nation, religion, or race.

  9. Bron, It has more to do with the sense of community, regardless of the politics of the country. Consider the case of Kitty Genovese.

  10. Matt, I believe that good people act exceptionally in times of crisis and they live in all countries, not just here. But, there are many US bashers here and elsewhere who believe we are evil incarnate. The self loathing seems almost soothing to them, caressing their negative souls. So, I get where you’re coming from, Racine man!

  11. Lot of retired military in San Diego. That keeps it down to earth, otherwise it would be LA. And in SD, folks truly respect military and veterans, not the phoney horseshit that we see all too often. Every Sunday is 1/2 price for Padres games..military, veterans, and family.

  12. Based on what I heard today, there could be an “exceptional” prosecution for felony murder here against Marathon Boy. He apparently ran over older bro with that car they hijacked. Death occurs as a result of commision of felony. The crime is applicable even if the victim was a co felon in the crime. So, Count I against TsarBoy or Marathon Boy should be murder of his own brother. THAT will get his mind working and stir up some grief. Court II, could be the little kid blown up. Make Marathon Boy feel some pain for what his bomb inflicted. First his bro and then the little guy. We need to keep little victim front and center. IF Marathon Boy was trying to make some point on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood or some other frat group then lets shove this heartless killing of the little child up their arse. Count III could be the murder of the policeman. Counts IV and V the murder of the other two bomb victims. The two hundred some odd counts of assault and battery with intent to kill on all of the wounded.

    No one on this blog or the other blogs out here have discussed the felony murder aspect.

  13. We need to get Nancy Grace to put some pressure on the feds to prosecute this schmucko for felony murder like BarkinDog suggests. Nancy Grace is the perfect one to put some pressure on the feds here. She needs to get off that dumb case about the gal who killed her boyfriend and take up another cause with her dumb hillbilly accent and shallow knowledge of criminal law.

  14. Mespo, American exceptionalism is a created political phrase used and abused by politicians
    It is brought out, run up the flagpole and anyone that does not salute it is “non american” as is evident by some acerbic comments seen here. Mine included.
    Why would you choose to end your article of Human grace and altruism with so derisive a term.

    Of course I may not know the definition or meaning of American Exceptionalism, perhaps you could define and explain it.

  15. David Blauw:

    I think American Exceptionalism is a misnomer trotted out to abuse American foreign policies which are by definition actions taken in self-interest. I was trying to show how silly the notion was and to give the term it’s real meaning that what we have here in America is an opportunity created and maintained by people like those mentioned above that is indeed quite exceptional by any historical definition.

  16. bron 1, April 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm


    I think, generally speaking, it is the result of living in a free country.

    I had commented:

    “Exceptionalism” is a nationalistic self-righteousness of the type that the Aryan NAZI officials fostered.

    That essence should not be conflated with exceptional individuals in all walks of life.

    Because the latter is not the result of being a citizen of any particular nation, religion, or race.

    (My comment up-thread). You are quite incorrect bron.

    Freedom, in a significant sense, comes from the recognition of what freedom is (freedom from what), informed by an individual spirit that guides in the direction of the common good.

    It is, in its largest sense, the individual manifestation of the common good by granting and perpetuating freedom for the common people.

    Freedom, in its most nuclear sense, is a result of being under heavy tyranny then resisting that tyranny in some way until tyranny dies out, then is replaced with the real thing baby.

    An example of this is Oskar Schindler, a German citizen who helped rescued oppressed Jews from the tyranny of the NAZI dogs right under their noses, and directly in their face (with cunning, rather than with force):

    Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories … Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, it was a box office success and recipient of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (seven BAFTAs, three Golden Globes).

    (Wikipedia, Schlinder’s List). Oskar Schlinder is still honored in Isreal.

    Other examples that have taken place in tyrannical nations around the globe are described here.

    You have no where near the appreciation of freedom they have, until you save others while under the gun of tyranny like they did.

    Your freedom is therefore in danger.

  17. Mespo, agreed.
    I witnessed an accident while delivering mail. I was 100 yards away. A dumpster truck going 45 mph (legally and properly) broadsided a car that had turned left on red at the worst time possible. I looked up at the sound and the car looked like a smooshed aluminum can wrapped around the two large steel prongs that these trucks have turned up when traveling. My legs weakened and I felt a violent blow to my psyche. …. My second experience was one of grit. …. I will go over there and do what I can. I figured no one else would. And I in no way wanted to go find what I suspected would be evident. I put my head down and began to go over. When I looked up there were 7 or 10 people running, gathering around this scene. I’m sure all those people had witnessed exactly what I had.
    The selfless immediate response to this horrible scene by so many people also effected my psyche in a “weird way”
    The grace and strength of humans shined strongly in front of my eyes. My incredible shock still permeated me, but to see this action by so many lifted me. I remember this incident with both shock an awe. ( the true meaning of shock and awe), not the BS Rumsfeld sold the American public.
    Ps, two woman were in the car they were both killed. I found out that a niece lived on my route. I eventually shared this story with her. I think she appreciated it.

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