When a rare lunar eclipse turned the moon crimson on Monday evening, the night sky appeared in a totally different way. The blood-red moon had not appeared for three years and reminded many watchers of the potential of the night sky to truly captivate with beauty.
Here on Earth, writing an opinion column usually starts with whatever headlines are making rounds on the national news. Has Congress done something silly today? Did they vote — or not vote — on a key piece of legislation? These things usually inspire my ramblings about domestic politics, so I was unsurprisingly at a loss for words (and ideas) when Congress adjourned for a two-week Easter recess last Friday. I found the motion of the celestial bodies to occupy just as much print space as the motion of our nation’s lawmakers.
Though the two-week Easter break for Congress is fiendishly long and likely undeserved, we as jealous readers and writers might take a less cynical approach. Given that Congress in session is nearly as productive as Congress out of session, this might seem strange, but I digress. Like the red moon, Congress’s two-week recess is an opportunity for the usual critics (myself included) to reflect on something else.
The bombing of the Boston Marathon last year was the largest attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Three people died, and another 260 were injured. A memorial event Tuesday that was held ahead of the marathon next Monday brought survivors, friends, family, Bostonians and people of all different backgrounds together to remember and pay tribute to those who were injured or lost their lives, and those who took extraordinary actions under such traumatic circumstances.
One of those individuals was Carlos Arredondo, a modern American hero who rushed toward the blasts to offer any assistance he could to those whose limbs had been severed moments before. Arredondo and all of the first responders embody the spirit of compassion and heroism. They remind us that in our darkest hours, we are not without hope.
Come next week, many, especially the families of the injured and dead, will bitterly regret the actions of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Chechen brothers suspected of planning and executing the attacks. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother, awaits trial in November. Though Tsarnaev is accused of committing an unspeakable act of horror that permanently altered the lives of so many families, it’s a testament to the principles this nation was founded on that he is being given the due process he deserves. The trauma of 9/11 caused this nation to abandon many of those principles, but when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev takes the stand in a court of law in front of a jury of his peers in a few months, it will signify that this nation no longer diminishes our values in the wake of tragedy.
The significance of a lunar eclipse from an astrological perspective is that the lunar eclipse signifies a time of reflection: as the moon begins to wane, it marks a time to think back on previous events, namely ones that occurred during the time the moon was growing to become full. It is said that decisions and accomplishments that happen during this waning phase take on a special meaning for the future.
When Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton and rushed into surgery at George Washington University’s hospital, he looked at his surgeon and wryly remarked, “I hope you are a Republican.”
The surgeon didn’t blink, and calmly replied, “Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans.”
This reflection on the Boston bombings and the heroes that emerged to help their fellow Bostonians might be my last bit of political positivism for a while, especially as the midterm elections season reaches full swing. Nevertheless, it is one that we should cherish, and one that will hopefully remind us that we are all Americans before we are Republicans or Democrats, especially as our hopeful candidates and already-elected officials begin to trash each other with attack ads. Next Monday, as thousands of runners and supporters take back the finish line that was ripped from them just one year ago, let’s put down the attack ads for a day, and remember that what binds us together is more important than that which sets us apart.
Like the red moon reminded its viewers that the night sky can be seen in a different light, the actions of everyday Americans immediately after the Boston bombings and to this day remind us of this potential for togetherness. At this particular point in the year, that is a nicer thought than 800 words on why Congress should take a shorter spring break.
Nathaniel Haas is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science. His column, “State of the Union,” runs Thursdays.