By Bob Salsberg
---- — BOSTON — A man who helped rescue a severely wounded victim of the Boston Marathon bombings was honored yesterday with a civilian bravery award during a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Carlos Arredondo accepted the award named for Madeline Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first of two planes hijacked from Logan International Airport and flown into the World Trade Center towers. Sweeney was able to discreetly contact ground crews and provide the first critical information to authorities about the actions of the terrorists.
This year’s ceremony at the Statehouse served as a tribute to victims of both the 9/11 and marathon attacks, the latter still painfully fresh in the minds of Bostonians. Relatives of people who died in the attacks attended the observance.
On April 15, Arredondo was at the finish line of the marathon, handing out American flags in honor of his son Alexander, a serviceman who was killed in the Iraq war in 2004, when the two bombs exploded.
One of the indelible images of the bombings’ aftermath was a photo showing Arredondo rushing in and helping a young man, Jeffrey Bauman, from the scene in a wheelchair. Bauman lost both legs but survived. The attack killed three people and wounded more than 260.
“I smile when I see Jeff Bauman and other survivors. They are getting healthy and they are very beautiful,” said Arredondo, who embraced Bauman as he accepted the award.
Sweeney was just doing her job 12 years ago, Arredondo said, and “I was just doing my duty as a human being,” after the bombings.
“I knew (by) the size of the explosion that it really hurt a lot of people. That’s why I rushed into action and helped out,” he told reporters after the ceremony.
Police Commissioner Ed Davis said he was proud of the way the city came together after the bombings, in much the same way the nation came together after 9/11, and said those who died in both attacks were not just victims, but also patriots.
“They were standing up for our way of life and telling terrorists that they will not affect what we do here in this nation, and how we do it,” Davis told the gathering.
Bill Richard, a Salem native whose 8-year-old son, Martin, was killed and his wife and young daughter seriously injured in the Boston bombings, thanked the 9/11 relatives for allowing his and other families of marathon victims to share the day with them.
Arredondo recalled that he was working in a construction job in Boston when he heard of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to drive his truck to New York to see if he could help. But his family forbade it, he said.
Yesterday’s observance also included a reading of the names of the more than 200 people with ties to Massachusetts who died in the attacks.
Kenneth Feinberg, special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and administrator of The One Fund, the main compensation fund for victims of the marathon bombings, was scheduled to speak about his experiences last night at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“In all of these funds, you’re dealing with very emotional, traumatized victims who lost loved ones or who were terribly injured, and emotion rules the day,” he said.
“I’m glad to talk on this important date in American history. The marathon occurred right around the corner, within a mile or so from the JFK Library,” he said.
“It all comes together.”