Carlos Arredondo, the Costa Rican immigrant with the cowboy hat who was photographed helping the injured of the Boston Marathon explosions, has been hailed a hero by many. But he doesn't want to be called one.
"It has nothing to do with [being] a hero, it's just a natural thing that myself and many other people have, trying to help in circumstances like that," said Arredondo from his home in a suburb of Boston.
This wasn't the first time Arredondo has caught the attention of the national media. In 2004, immediately after learning that his son Alex died in Iraq, Arredondo lit himself and his van on fire with gasoline and a propane torch out of grief. He suffered serious burns from the incident. After his recovery, Arredondo became an anti-war activist.
Then in 2011, Arredondo lost his other son, Brian, who took his own life at the age of 24.
While the Senate debates immigration reform, and Rep. Steve King warns that the bombings are a reminder that immigration could endanger public safety, it's a notable irony that Arredondo came to the U.S. without authorization 33 years ago when he was 19 years old.
But that's not why his story really matters. Arredondo's heroism in the immediate aftermath of the bombings is well documented in video and photography from that day -- he ran towards the area where the bomb went off, he pulled away debris to help those who had been hurt, and tended to a young man in a wheelchair who seemed to have lost both his legs in blast.
The day of the Boston Marathon explosions, Arredondo sat in the bleachers, with an American flag in hand, to root for National Guard runners and a suicide support group.
After the explosion, his only regret is that he couldn't help more people.