Today’s normally scheduled hilarious someecard post has been deferred for another week, for today marks an incredibly important day in Boston, in Massachusetts, and in New England.
Because today is Patriot’s Day, and the annual running of the Boston Marathon. After last year’s tragic events, it seems inappropriate to make a marathon joke in my honest opinion. I can only hope that today’s marathon goes as smoothly as possible. And while the city and the media have taken the past week to reflect on last year’s bombing, I’d like to take a few minutes.
I’ll admit that writing this post is emotionally harder than I expected. It’s hard to explain how a tragedy in one’s city can affect you even if you don’t know anyone personally affected. The disruption of the sense of security and safety during the day of the bombing and the chilling quiet during the city’s subsequent shutdown will linger in the hearts and minds of every citizen of Boston, and to that feeling, I am not immune. But I also remain overwhelmed by how Boston responded to this tragedy. Bostonians are not known to be a warm, bubbly, and friendly population, but the reaction to the marathon bombing proved that our harder exteriors mask a caring and compassionate core.
I think the best way to commemorate the people we lost, those who were affected, and the way life changed that day is through reflecting on the words spoken during that terrible week. On my tenth Marathon Monday, my own comments from last year still ring loudly.
…Standing on the streets of our city next to friends, neighbors, and strangers alike, cheering on runners from around the world. Marathon Monday is a day when college rivalries dissolve, and Red Sox and Yankees fans stand next to one another, offering ‘high-fives’ to people facing the holy grail of athleticism head on. It is a day where the people of Boston remember why we love this town so much.
For a single day each year, the world focuses its attention on our beautiful city. And it is a limelight in which we revel. We are not a London or Paris or New York City; the spotlight does not always shine on us. We are a small city, but we are an intensely proud one. We are a city of academics and students, doctors and nurses, lawyers and judges, athletes and champions. We are a city that has faced adversity in the past – the Boston Marathon is run on the very day commemorating the brave patriots who fought British aggression on the battlefields outside of Lexington and Concord. We are a city that mourned with our fellow Americans on 9/11, saddened further that our fair city was the origin for two of those doomed flights. We are a city with a storied past, a history well known.
To all of the first responders – police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and EMTs, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your courage and diligence. To the runners who finished the race and turned back to help or ran to local hospitals to donate blood – you truly are superhuman. To the citizens of our city who opened up their hearts and homes, thank you for showing the world what Boston is truly all about. And to the families that are mourning – know that we are hurting with you.
To the person or persons who perpetrated this cowardly act, you have messed with the wrong town. You have gravely miscalculated how our city responds to violence that kills and injures innocent bystanders, especially when it comes to our children. For when you perpetrate acts of terror against Boston, you are dealing not only with our city but with all of New England. One only need to hear a speech from our mayor or attend a Boston sporting event to know that we proudly and fiercely defend her. We are a town that does not easily forgive and never forgets. We may talk a lot of trash in this town, but trust and believe that our bark is nowhere near as bad as our bite.
President Obama’s words reminded us of how good this city is, and the need to carry on. His words forecasted the remarkable moment after the Red Sox won the World Series, and cheering indeed returned to Boylston Street.
But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace, to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted and the spirit of the country shall remained undimmed. [...] You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love. [...] In the words of Dick Hoyt, who has pushed his disabled son Rick in 31 Boston marathons, we can’t let something like this stop us. This doesn’t stop us. And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us, to push on, to persevere, to not grow weary, to not get faint even when it hurts. [...] We carry on. We race. We strive. We build and we work and we love and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life and to walk our cities and to cheer for our teams when the Sox, then Celtics, then Patriots or Bruins are champions again, to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans. The crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. And this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon.
Bet on it.
But perhaps Governor Patrick Deval said it best in his speech during the interfaith service.
And I am thankful, maybe most especially, for the countless numbers of people in this proud City and this storied Commonwealth who, in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness. [...] So, we will recover and repair. We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability, without vengeance. Vigilance, without fear. And we will remember, I hope and pray, long after the buzz of Boylston Street is back and the media has turned its attention elsewhere, that the grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.
Amen Governor, amen.
May this year’s marathon truly show our ability to recover and repair, to rise and endure, to overcome adversity and demonstrate our will and strength. To all the runners, may you run your hearts out and conquer your dreams. To the friends and family members cheering them on, cheer louder than you have ever cheered before and show the world what we’re made of. And to the thousands of people who call this city home and all those eagerly watching, may you all have an amazing and safe Patriot’s Day and Marathon Monday. I certainly plan on being out there watching and cheering along with you.