BOSTON (AP) — A man who survived two terror attacks has a message for the assailants: I forgive you.
Mason Wells was a short distance from one of the two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three spectators and wounding 260 others.
Three years later, Wells was wounded when a bomb exploded at the airport in Brussels.
On Friday, the 20-year-old missionary from Sandy, Utah, released a video addressing the attackers. In the clip recorded for the news website Mic, Wells said: “What you did was evil. You killed innocent people and you ended meaningful lives.”
“I still carry scars from that day,” he said, adding: “But I have chosen to forgive you. I have learned that the decision to forgive is ours and ours alone.”
Wells said he’s chosen not to live in fear “and I’ve chosen to make every single day another day to be grateful for.”
Wells narrowly escaped injury in the attack at the marathon, where he was standing with his father 60 yards (55 meters) from one of the bombs to cheer for his mother, who was running.
In the 2016 attack at Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport, he suffered burns to his face and hands, shrapnel and blast wounds to his legs and other injuries that required extensive treatment and rehabilitation. Wells was serving as a Mormon missionary in Belgium at the time. Thirty-two people were killed and more than 300 wounded in explosions at the airport and in a subway.
At the time, acknowledging his two brushes with death, Wells told reporters from his hospital bed — his face wrapped in bandages — that he’s convinced “there’s someone greater than us who’s watching over us.”
Wells recovered and wrote a book about his ordeal. He’s now enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he’s studying engineering.
Friday’s video was directed primarily at the Brussels suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El-Bakraoui.
“By forgiving you and getting past the events of that day, I’ve become a stronger person,” he said.
“It’s about letting go of yesterday and not letting the hardest moments of our lives define us.”