Editor's note: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a fellow and deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council of Foreign Relations. She wrote "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana," a book that tells the story of an Afghan girl whose business created jobs and hope during the Taliban years.
(CNN) -- On the same day terrorists took lives in Boston, Secretary of State John Kerry talked in Tokyo about another young life extinguished by an explosive device, Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff.
"A 25-year-old young woman, full of idealism, full of hopes, taking books to children in a school so they can learn, and wiped out by terrorism, by the worst kind of nihilistic nothing -- violence that doesn't stand for anything except killing people and stopping the future," Kerry said, talking of his decision to pay a condolence visit to her parents and vowing her death would not be in vain.
"We're not going to be deterred. We're going to be inspired. And we're going to use Anne's idealism as another motivation for the idealism that brings all of you to this effort in the first place. We can make this world better."
Only hours later came Boston, and more lives blown apart by explosive devices planted to deadly effect on a day that should have been a holiday. Bombs hit innocents right in the heart of a street celebration and were timed for the most lethal impact. Spectators killed. Babies injured. An 8-year-old boy, who had held a handmade sign calling for peace, dead. A young Boston woman full of promise extinguished before her 30th birthday. A young Chinese woman who chased her dream of education in Boston killed. Death clinging to the streets in a city that would have found the idea unthinkable even moments before. Carnage all around.
Americans will be called upon in the coming days to do as so many families have before them: to pull themselves out of the swamp of their heartbreak and to push forward with life. To make certain that those who practice destruction and devastation do not achieve a win. To find the valor amid the annihilation and to force resilience to rise up against grief. As Kerry said, to be inspired by horror to "make this world better," as Boston's first responders and a slew of marathon volunteers surely were.
But it will not be easy.
Facing down terror and resuming life is tough. Rebuilding after loss requires a particular kind of tenacity and a commitment to living that grief wants to smother. Many push forward to do honor to the memory of those they have lost. But they must remind themselves each step of the way that though it would be easier to succumb to loss they must instead choose life. Because otherwise their loved one's example would be in vain.
As Boston struggled to reconcile itself with the re-emergence of terror, a series of bombs exploded across Iraq leaving death and maiming behind. People simply trying to make a flight at Baghdad's airport died when parked cars became explosives. At least 42 were killed across the country.
In Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed nine people who came out for an election rally. More than 50 were wounded.
Across the world innocents are targeted and terror seizes the spotlight with little effort. All that is left to be done is to bear witness, bring perpetrators to justice and continue living.
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The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Gayle Lemmon.