Tragedies

By DON BEHM

As I watch TV, most of the news is about tragedies: a bombing at the Boston Mara­thon and a fertilizer plant in Texas blowing up. The plant was not far from the city of Waco where hundreds of people from a religious cult and their wacko leader burned to death.

Our president and his former opponent are attending an interfaith prayer service for the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy. I don’t know if there is an interfaith service in Storm Lake, but I am sure there are lots of prayers being offered around the country. President Obama may not go down in history as the most successful president, but in my opinion, he will go down as one of the most compassionate and heartwarming. Whenever tragedy strikes, he is there to give comfort and strength to the people involved.

Several years ago when the Twin Towers in New York were blown up by terrorists, Jean and I attended an interfaith service. We Americans join together in tragedy and forget politics and petty differences with prayer and condolence. At any interfaith service, there are people of all faiths or even no faith. They are there because they care for their fellow human beings.

When I was about 17 years old, I had a personal experience with tragedy. I was a junior in high school and worked on the railroad on Saturdays and during the summer. There were a lot of boys working on the railroad. It was during WWII and there was a shortage of men as they were leaving for the armed services.

One evening two kids and I went to a movie and about halfway through the movie they announced there had been a train wreck on the outskirts of Missouri Valley. A freight train had collided with a passenger train on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. It was a terrible wreck and the railroad foreman said he needed us to help. Thirteen people were dead and over 200 injured. Many more were in a state of shock. Neighbors and others joined in giving aid to anyone they could. Men were using their belts for tourniquets and some women even used their slips for bandages. The town had two retired doctors and they helped where they could. Doctors were brought up from the two hospitals in Council Bluffs.

The tracks had to be cleared; the war was still raging so the trains had to keep moving. I worked 19 hours straight and finally went home to sleep for about 19 hours more. A teacher asked me to tell about it but I said I could not say anything except it was terrible.