Huffpost Impact
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Lillie Leonardi Headshot

Resilience

Posted: Updated:

"The greatest glory in living
lies not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall." 
~ Nelson Mandela 

Resilience is defined as the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something detrimental happens. In recent weeks, our nation once again witnessed the renewal of a community as the Boston residents rallied to exemplify their strength and alacrity to survive. The term "Boston Strong" again rang true. Not only to those individuals who suffered at the hands of terrorists who chose to perpetrate heinous crimes, but to all who survived the losses and injuries resulting from the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon. As our nation mourned alongside those who grievously suffered, we resolved in our convictions to not accept the label of "victims," but rather "victors."

For more years than I care to acknowledge, I have attempted to rebound from the emotional effects of a traumatic injury. And sadly, I must admit that I have far too often felt sorry for myself. That was, until I listened to the stories of those harmed at the 2013 Marathon. It is said that disappointments are inevitable, but bitterness is an option. In watching one valiant warrior after another, I was in awe of their ability to deal with all that had transpired. One after another embraced the concepts of forgiveness and fortitude. And for many days following their interviews, I was reminded of three words: bravery, fidelity and integrity. The unofficial meaning behind the acronym of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An agency in which I once served. Although the three letters stand for the name of the organization, all those who have served also identify the lettering to symbolize behavioral traits expected to be part of every man and woman employed by the Bureau. It is true of those who experienced the horrific events of the Marathon. They epitomize the very meaning and shine brightly as testimony of the ability of the mind, body and spirit to replenish and renew.  

As I observed this year's gathering in Boston, I felt such pride in viewing the sea of people who assembled not only to participate in the race, but to share in the day. It is estimated that a crowd of one million individuals were present. A mass of humanity that rose in defiance of circumstances that were meant to terrorize and defeat. But all present refused to be silenced by the acts. Instead they became victorious in their defiance to never allow such acts to define them. From across the nation, individuals converged in support of the many who braved to compete again. Those who participated not only represented themselves, but served as a symbol of us all. One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Justice for those lost. Justice for those injured. Justice for all who refuse to be afraid. 

During my tenure in law enforcement, I witnessed far too many grief-stricken individuals. In the initial stages of grieving, I watched them struggle to regain a sense of balance. As their healing process progressed, it became apparent that the individuals who were most resilient found the strength to persevere. This healing process seemed to accelerate when the element of support from family and community was added to the equation. I have found many examples of resilience in our nation's history, among them the days following 9/11 and horrific crimes perpetrated in our communities, military bases and schools alike. The cry that is raised following such tragedies always leads to the intercession of the many who rise up in their determination to move forward and thrive. I contend that these amazing survivors are to be admired for all they have accomplished and all they have brought to this world. Their purpose has indeed aligned with the greater good of humanity, their triumphant lives a shining example for all to emulate.