A Bostonian Reflects on the Boston Marathon Bombings
I went to high school two blocks from Copley Square, where two bombs went off and killed three people, and injured well over 100. The starting line of the marathon is in my small hometown, 26.2 miles west of Boston. So although I don’t personally know anyone who ran this year, I do have a close connection to the race run every third Monday in April.
The marathon has always had a special place in my heart, and it has for all Bostonians; it’s something that’s difficult to explain. It always falls on a holiday in Massachusetts, Patriots Day, which everyone just calls Marathon Monday. For my small town of 14,000, seeing the town almost triple in size, with swarms of people from all over the world, is both surreal and routine. And maybe we know someone running in the race, and maybe we don’t, but so many of us go down to the starting line or the finish line or anywhere in between to cheer on the runners who run an amazing distance on one of the hardest courses in the world. They don’t call it Heartbreak Hill for nothing. And we stay. We stay for all the runners who are having a hard time, who are struggling, to give them our support.
It’s kind of like our Blue-White Game. A unique, kind of non-sequitur spring tradition dating back to 1896, it’s the most prestigious marathon in the world. For a long time, it was the only race, and it’s still the race that everyone wants to run. And it’s a big point of pride for us.
Almost everyone I know knows someone who was running the race or who was a spectator near the finish line on Monday. I can’t even imagine the sheer terror they were feeling, nor can I imagine the grief of the families of the dead and the wounded. I just keep thinking of 8-year-old Martin Richard and I am nothing short of heartbroken.
I get very emotional every time I look at pictures, read stories, and see videos about what happened Monday. It’s a bit strange, since I wasn’t there. I feel like I should have been there, been with everyone to share in the grief with.
I get emotional that this happened in my hometown, in a place where I spent every day for four years, where people I know were running scared for their lives. And I get angry; how dare they ruin our marathon? The innocence of the event is just about lost, an event I so closely associate with my childhood.
But I am overcome with pride when I think of everyone who ran, still scared for their lives, toward the explosions, doing anything they could to help. That in no time, countless families opened their homes to stranded runners, that Google set up a people finder to help people navigate the chaos to find loved ones, that the runners who had just completed a 26.2 mile race ran an extra mile-and-a-half to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood.
The support has been overwhelming. Everyone has been asking me if my family was OK, which they are. The sports page of the Chicago Tribune yesterday. Our fierce rival New York Yankees singing “Sweet Caroline” at Yankee Stadium. The Blue-White Walk for Boston this Saturday. Every show of support and solidarity means so much to us and our city. Knowing that you are all there with us, that today, we are all Bostonians. And to that, all I have to say is thank you. There is no feeling quite like being so loved.
It’s just so sad. I can feel my face tighten when I even think the words “Boston Marathon”. But we will get through it. Everyone has been so good to us, and we will get through it. We’ll get through it thanks to you, and thanks to our city. We are #BostonStrong.