Joe Berti is either lucky or unlucky, depending on how you view life, but either way, his story links together two of the most horrific explosions in recent memory.
But as strange as his tale is, I found people who were connected by more amazing fates…
Joe Berti is a 43 year old fitness salesman who was linked to both of last week’s horrific news stories.
Berti was running for charity in the Boston Marathon, and had just completed the race when we heard the dual explosions back on the course. Concerned for his wife’s safety, he found her with minor shrapnel wounds, a fortunate turn of events for sure.
Shaken, he returned to his Texas home, and drove to a meeting the next day in Dallas. On his return trip, he was rocked again, this time by the brutal fertilizer factory blast along I-35 in the town of West, TX. His car was pelted by debris, shattering one of the windows.
“People keep saying, ‘Don’t you feel unlucky?’ and I was actually the opposite—saying not only do I not feel unlucky, but I feel blessed that my wife could be 10 yards from the explosion and not have a scratch.” So will he be staying home for a while? “We need to keep him moving,” says his wife, Amy. “Maybe he just needs to stand in an open field.”
While reading about Berti’s adventures, I remembered a story from just a couple of years ago. It was an obituary for a man named Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima the morning of August 6, 1945 doing business for his employer, Mitsubishi when the first atom bomb was detonated. Blinded temporarily, and wounded with severe burns, Yamaguchi crawled to a shelter, where he was treated and released.
Stunned, he drove back home to, you guessed it, Nagasaki, where he lived through the second atom bomb on August 9. This time, fortunately, he was unhurt, but he was suffering from a high fever from his first wounds and nearly died. He hung on, and lived to the age of 93, a hero in his home country. He live his life from that point on as an opponent of nuclear arms.
His famous quote:
“The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breast-feeding their babies.”
As unbelievable as his tale his, I also recall an article in the Baltimore Sun from the late 90’s about a man in Odenton, MD who was in the Marines when the Phillipines fell to the Japanese in 1941. Forced to endure the 80-mile Bataan Death March to the tip of the Luzon peninsula through oppressive tropical conditions, he was a POW until his release in 1945.
Believe it or not, he reenlisted, and found himself at the notorious Chosin Reservoir, when the brutal cold weather hit 35 below, leaving many soldiers with frostbite.
I failed to find the article online, but I did find examples of others who survived the same fate.
Life is an interesting journey. It is easy after experiencing pain and brutality to quit and take a breather, yet none of the above examples did that. Instead, they got up, brushed themselves off and continued their lives. They had every reason to take a few days off, take it easy or not reenlist. But they didn’t do that.
Get back up on the bike.