Following Tragedy, Here's How We Come Together

In light of the heinous Manchester attack, we review the many heroes who have saved lives amid extreme instances of terrorism in the 21st century.

The recent terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that left 22 people dead is just one of many, many devastating attacks the world has seen recently.

Whether you were right next door or on the other side of the world, with the easy access to social media, we feel closer to these tragedies than ever before. 

It's difficult to fathom how we can pick up the broken pieces in the face of such horror, but somehow, the resiliency of the human spirit carries us. And in these instances — wherein we band together in the interest of rebuilding — a beacon of hope shines in the dark. 

We will not shoulder the grief alone.

Below are examples of compassion and heroism demonstrated by complete strangers during the worst of times.

In 2013, runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon rushed to assist those in trouble instead of fleeing the scene.

"By the time I got there, there were so many first responders and volunteer physicians," said Dr. Vivek Shah to CNN, who was nearly finished with the race when the bombs exploded. 

During the 2015 Paris attacks, a stranger shielded a woman's body at the Bataclan. 

"A man saved my wife's life last night at the Bataclan by hiding her under chairs and shielding her with his body," the husband posted on Facebook. "His name is Bruno and we would like to thank him."

Good Samaritans used social media to provide assistance, too. Throughout the Paris bombings, Parisians used the hashtag #PorteOuverte (or #OpenDoor) to signal housing for those stranded during the tragedy. 

A baggage security worker sprung to the aid of victims during the Brussels, Belgium, attack of 2016. Despite the blood that was "everywhere," fear didn't stand in Alphonse Youla's way. Using what first aid training he had as a kid, he tied tourniquets and applied bandages.

According to a bystander during the 2016 attack in Nice, France, a person of "extraordinary courage" jumped onto the truck in an attempt to stop it. 

"It was at this moment that the police were able to stop the terrorist," he said to Europe 1 Radio

On 9/11, heroes were everywhere. Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader, risked his life to save at least a dozen survivors who were injured in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. 

He led people to a stairway, encouraging them to assist others. Crowther also carried a woman who had been hurt on his back down 15 floors to where it was safe. 

His body was discovered in the building in March 2002, alongside emergency personnel. 

"I see this incredible hero, running back and forth and saving the day," said survivor Judy Wein to CNN. "In his mind, he had a duty to do — to save people."

The bombing in Manchester made heroes out of the unlikely. Homeless man Chris Parker, 33, was waiting outside the entrance of the arena to beg, and another homeless man, Stephen Jones, 35, was sleeping in the vicinity. 

Rather than making a run for it amidst the chaos, the two men stuck around to rescue the injured and care for the dying. 

Parker tended to a girl who had lost her legs by wrapping her in a T-shirt. He also held a woman on the brink of death in his arms. 

Jones pulled nails out of the arms and faces of children. 

People were so touched by their courageous actions, fund-raising pages were set up for the two men. So far, more than $50,000 has been raised for Parker, and more than $48,000 for Jones.

Amazingly and thankfully, we will come together, pick up the pieces, and rebuild. French general and statesmen Charles de Gaulle summarized it best: "It is not tolerable, it is not possible, that from so much death, so much sacrifice and ruin, so much heroism, a greater and better humanity shall not emerge."

Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr user Vjeran Pavic

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