The human spirit is our greatest asset | Don Brunell President’s Perspective

With a steady stream of bad news stories about maimed soldiers, the Boston Marathon bombing and the house of horrors in Cleveland, it would be natural to despair for the human condition. What defect in the human character allows us to do such things?

From Don Brunell’s President’s Perspective blog:

With a steady stream of bad news stories about maimed soldiers, the Boston Marathon bombing and the house of horrors in Cleveland, it would be natural to despair for the human condition. What defect in the human character allows us to do such things?

But the survivors of these terrible ordeals tell a different story, one of courage, strength, determination and hope. It is the story of the indomitable human spirit.

Iraq war veteran Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco lost his arms and legs to a roadside bomb in 2009. Not satisfied with his prosthetic arms, Marrocco took a major risk by opting to become the first soldier to receive an arm transplant. The 13-hour double transplant surgery was the first ever performed at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and only the seventh to be performed in the United States.

Just days after his surgery, Marrocco’s spirit and sense of humor were on display when he met with reporters.

Comparing himself to his favorite character in the Harry Potter books, he called himself “the boy who lived.” “I never really accepted the fact I didn’t have arms,” Marrocco said,  “Now I have them back, and it’s like I went back four years and I’m me again. It’s a second chance to start over after I got hurt.”

At last report, Marrocco’s progress is astounding his physical therapists. While it will be two or three years before he regains full sensation in his arms, Marrocco told Stars and Stripes his new arms give him hope for the future.

Issaquah native Adrianne Haslet is displaying similar courage and determination in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. A professional dancer, Haslet lost her left foot in the attack. While such a tragedy would understandably devastate most of us, the 32-year old Haslet is determined not to let it ruin her life. “I absolutely want to dance again and I also want to run the marathon next year,” she told the Associated Press. “I will crawl across the finish line, literally crawl, if it means I finish it.”

Speaking about her ordeal, she told a Seattle television station, “I just want people to know that you can come out of a situation that might seem like the end of the world and come out stronger.”

That same strength of will miraculously sustained Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight who escaped last week from their decade-long captivity in a Cleveland home. The three were kidnapped as young girls, abused and tortured for more than 10 years. It may take years for them to fully recover, but amazingly, they emerged from that house of terror with awe-inspiring strength and presence of mind.

As we despair of the violence people wreak upon each other, we should also remember the selflessness, courage and compassion people show. Thousands of first responders rushed into the Twin Towers on 9/11, driven by a sense of professional duty and human compassion. One of them, off-duty firefighter Steven Siller, ran almost two miles through the closed Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel wearing 60 pounds of gear to join the rescue attempt. Siller perished that day, along with more than 400 other first responders.

When we think of the Boston bombings, we should also remember the sight of scores of medical personnel and volunteers immediately rushing toward the blast zone, with no thought for their own safety.  

We face many challenges today, but rather than think of ourselves as victims, we should emulate those who confront tragedy and violence with courage, refusing to be beaten, determined to prevail.

That indomitable human spirit is our greatest asset and our greatest hope.

About the Author

Don Brunell is the president of the Association of Washington Business. Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit awb.org.

More in News

Jeter returns to Bonney Lake as police chief

The city has grown since he left 13 years ago, but Bryan Jeter says he’s ready for the challenge.

Cross-country cyclists make first stop in Enumclaw

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members from all around the country stopped at Ashley House on their first stop on the Journey of Hope tour.

Staying involved helped one man out of homelessness, and empower others | Public Health Insider

Having a cause and advocating for others helped Greg Francis leave homelessness behind.

Wyatt Hodder same in third in one of this year’s tree climbing competitions. Photo by Ashley Britschgi
Junior Show attracts 142 competitors, here are the winners

Make sure you don’t miss the big event next weekend.

City shifts approach on downtown property plans

The Enumclaw City Council decided to seek “letters of interest” from potential developers instead of a traditional Request for Proposals.

After Seattle’s controversial employee head tax was repealed, King County Executive Dow Constantine wants to bond against existing tax revenues to generate $100 million for affordable housing. Photo by Joe Mabel/Wikipedia Commons
County executive proposes $100 million affordable housing bond

The money was already coming, but Constantine wants to speed up the process.

Bonney Lake High School graduation 2018 | Slideshow

Check out the Panthers in their cap and gowns getting ready for life’s next challenges.

Programs come together for benefit of White River graduates

Check out which Hornets were honored during the 2018 graduation.

Enumclaw Health and Rehab offers free nursing training

The next round of classes starts Monday, June 26, and runs through July 24.

Most Read