The human spirit vanquished darkness

On October 12, 2002, an AFL footballer, Jason McCartney, dragged his body out of Paddy's Bar in Kuta; his neck and hair on fire until he removed his T-shirt to extinguish the flames.

McCartney, as he writes in his book, After Bali, let others he thought were more seriously injured be evacuated first. He would not occupy a bed in an Australian hospital for 48 hours, but, once there, would stay for a month, including six days in an induced coma when his life hung in the balance.

He was married, as previously scheduled, 63 days after the bombings and then, on June 6, 2003, McCartney played one last game of football before an adoring crowd. It was, as the Sydney Morning Herald noted, a ''triumph of the human spirit''.

McCartney's bravery and remarkable recovery is just one of many stories of loss and renewal to emerge from the terrorist attacks that devastated families, communities and sporting clubs 10 years ago today.

As we pause to reflect on the 202 lives lost that night in an island paradise, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians, we are reminded not just of the heroics, but of those families altered forever by the bombings, 20 seconds apart, at Paddy's and the Sari Club.

Our hearts ache for the 202 people who did not sit at the breakfast table with their families this morning. Those like Sydneysiders Kathy Salvatori, a 37-year-old mother of two; and Simone Hanley, the 28-year-old who clung to life for 58 days after the bombings only to become the 88th Australian to die.

An online tribute wall is filled with kind words from family, long-lost friends and complete strangers touched by the victims' stories. Our readers' tributes have come not only for the Australians, but for many of the Balinese and foreigners. ''You were an example of what more of us should be like and yet it was your life that was cut short,'' one posted of Ana-Cecilia Aviles, a humanitarian worker from Ecuador.

Yet, for the outpouring of grief that accompanies this day, a reflection on the decade that has passed allows us to conclude - quietly but profoundly - that tolerance and humanity defeated the forces of extremism and hate.

The terrorist attacks - as part of a campaign to turn Indonesia into an Islamist state and wage war on foreign infidels - failed.

The attacks did not terrorise for long. Bali's extraordinary people rallied and rebuilt, and have resuscitated their tourism industry with irresistible charm and welcoming smiles. Indonesia is a thriving democracy and emerging regional powerhouse.

Australians have returned in droves. Indonesia is, after New Zealand, the most popular destination for Australians, with 911,000 visits in 2011-12. Almost 800,000 of those visits were to Bali, well above levels before the attacks.

Indonesia's police have done an outstanding job in dismantling the country's terrorist networks and combating emerging threats.

Australian government agencies forged closer ties with their Indonesian counterparts and played an unprecedented role in the investigation into the attacks, part of a rapid response by the Howard government to a crisis that required the biggest peacetime medical evacuation in Australian history.

Ordinary Australians, too, weighed in to help. Holidaymakers in Bali, including medical specialists, rushed to help survivors and comfort the grieving.

The perpetrators of the attacks were tried in open court and Australians, such as McCartney, were allowed to testify in trials about the impact of the mass murder on victims.

The ringleaders, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, were executed, as was their accomplice Amrozi. The bomb makers Azahari bin Husein and Dulmatin died in raids by police. The last senior figure in the plot, Umar Patek, was sentenced to a long prison term this year.

It is a testament to the success of Indonesian law enforcement that the Australian government, finally, lowered its travel warning this year. While it acknowledges the ongoing risk of more terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Australians are no longer told to "reconsider your need to travel".

First and foremost today is about honouring those who died. If our innocence was lost that October night 10 years ago, we mustered a resolute spirit that, even when pitted against the most heinous crime, saw the human spirit triumph in the end.

Click the image above to read and add tributes to bombing victims

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings on October 12, 2012, we have launched a memorial to honour and remember all 202 people who died in the terrorist attack. Behind each photo and image is the story of those who perished, and a place for people to leave their own personal tributes. 

Click to launch interactive memorial

Read more

'A catastrophe of enormous scale': the search for Bali justice

Return to the scene of an enduring nightmare

Bali bombing site used as 'public urinal'

'I had never worked in a war zone': Surgeon recalls Bali nightmare

Bali anniversary: David Ure the reluctant hero

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