A moment of triumph quickly turned into horror and confusion yesterday as a pair of explosions left a gruesome scene at the Boston Marathon.
The blasts left three dead, including an 8-year-old boy and over 150 people were hospitalized, some critically. Details are still coming in as to who caused the attack or what the motives were.
The news rolled across my Twitter feed in real time. As a novice runner, I had been periodically checking my news feed during the event to check progress and get results. That’s when I started seeing mentions of confusion and terror. Words like “blast” and “bombing.”
Then a photo of the aftermath. Debris everywhere. Smoke. Charred remains of paper. And on the pavement, blood. It was sickening and unreal. In an age where we have in many ways become desensitized to violence, I found the images and accounts of the events that unfolded almost too much to handle. When I heard that the life of a young kid was cut down, my heart broke.
The finish line is normally an area where hands are held high and spirits are lifted, instead it became a trauma unit. People scattered to assist those in need, others rushed for cover. In those uncertain moments of horror, one is never sure on what to do.
It bears mentioning is that yesterday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, a state wide holiday. Two things are certain on this day, the Red Sox play a day game and the marathon is run. Bostonians take pride in this day and the race. It’s a time honored tradition. Most of the city is shut down. People take the day off maybe as an excuse to watch the run or sneak out of the office for a day and get to Fenway.
Boston is a city close to my heart. As a kid who was born and raised in Buffalo, New York I grew up as a fan of both the Red Sox and Bruins. I started following the Red Sox when I was six years old. My reasoning? Because they had a “B” on their cap and since my name began with that letter it made sense. I became a fan of the Bruins a year or so later after my father took me to a Sabres game where they played the Bruins. I walked in wearing a Buffalo hat, but left as a fan of the team in black and gold. Since then I haven’t turned my back on my loyalty to the teams of that city. My wife and I even spent part of our honeymoon in Boston and have returned numerous times. It’s a great city full of some of the finest people around.
Through social media I’ve drawn a bond with many people from the area. On Twitter we’ve shared joy over our teams victories and disappointment (and often humor) in their defeats. It’s a tight-knit, dysfunctional social community and yesterday we all banded together in support and comfort. Not just the fine people of Boston, not just the fans of the teams from that area, but people from all over were apart of the discussion. Words of encouragement and hope rolled in from all over, from New York City to California. Last night, fans of the Oakland Athletics changed their chant from “Let’s go Oakland” to “Let’s go Boston.”
As a testament to the strength of that city and the marathon itself, many people who had finished the race continued running to Mass General Hospital to donate blood to those in need. There were reports of first responders using lanyards as makeshift tourniquets.
Patriots’ Day celebrates the earliest days of our nation. Though celebrated on the third Monday in April, the actual Patriots’ Day is April 19th and it marks the Battles of Lexington and Concord and “the shot heard around the world.” It’s tragic that a day which celebrates freedom is now marred by violence.
Whether or not the significance of this day factored into the events is unclear. What is clear is that the city of Boston will prosper and next year, the marathon will be bigger and stronger, but will never be the same.