Skip to main content

Getting on with life after terror hits

By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, special to CNN
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 0043 GMT (0843 HKT)
Mourners gather on the edge of the pond in the Boston Public Gardens for a candlelight vigil for victims of the bombings.
Mourners gather on the edge of the pond in the Boston Public Gardens for a candlelight vigil for victims of the bombings.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gayle Lemmon: Terror doesn't discriminate: People all over world died Monday
  • Lemmon: Like the diplomat killed in Afghanistan, lives were cut short in Boston
  • She says rebuilding after loss requires tenacity and a commitment to living
  • Lemmon: Terror easily seizes the spotlight; we must bear witness and find justice

Editor's note: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a fellow and deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council of Foreign Relations. She wrote "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana," a book that tells the story of an Afghan girl whose business created jobs and hope during the Taliban years.

(CNN) -- On the same day terrorists took lives in Boston, Secretary of State John Kerry talked in Tokyo about another young life extinguished by an explosive device, Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff.

"A 25-year-old young woman, full of idealism, full of hopes, taking books to children in a school so they can learn, and wiped out by terrorism, by the worst kind of nihilistic nothing -- violence that doesn't stand for anything except killing people and stopping the future," Kerry said, talking of his decision to pay a condolence visit to her parents and vowing her death would not be in vain.

"We're not going to be deterred. We're going to be inspired. And we're going to use Anne's idealism as another motivation for the idealism that brings all of you to this effort in the first place. We can make this world better."

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Only hours later came Boston, and more lives blown apart by explosive devices planted to deadly effect on a day that should have been a holiday. Bombs hit innocents right in the heart of a street celebration and were timed for the most lethal impact. Spectators killed. Babies injured. An 8-year-old boy, who had held a handmade sign calling for peace, dead. A young Boston woman full of promise extinguished before her 30th birthday. A young Chinese woman who chased her dream of education in Boston killed. Death clinging to the streets in a city that would have found the idea unthinkable even moments before. Carnage all around.

Americans will be called upon in the coming days to do as so many families have before them: to pull themselves out of the swamp of their heartbreak and to push forward with life. To make certain that those who practice destruction and devastation do not achieve a win. To find the valor amid the annihilation and to force resilience to rise up against grief. As Kerry said, to be inspired by horror to "make this world better," as Boston's first responders and a slew of marathon volunteers surely were.

Marathon bombing kills 3; injures 144
The people who saved others in Boston

But it will not be easy.

Facing down terror and resuming life is tough. Rebuilding after loss requires a particular kind of tenacity and a commitment to living that grief wants to smother. Many push forward to do honor to the memory of those they have lost. But they must remind themselves each step of the way that though it would be easier to succumb to loss they must instead choose life. Because otherwise their loved one's example would be in vain.

As Boston struggled to reconcile itself with the re-emergence of terror, a series of bombs exploded across Iraq leaving death and maiming behind. People simply trying to make a flight at Baghdad's airport died when parked cars became explosives. At least 42 were killed across the country.

In Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed nine people who came out for an election rally. More than 50 were wounded.

Across the world innocents are targeted and terror seizes the spotlight with little effort. All that is left to be done is to bear witness, bring perpetrators to justice and continue living.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Gayle Lemmon.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT