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. Thanks to all of those who responded selflessly to aid the victims of the Marathon bombings!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Comments are closed.