The Boston Marathon has been a landmark event for one hundred and nineteen years. It is not just a local event, though it is an event that all people in the state hold dear, even if they aren't runners. It is something we as residents of Massachusetts hold dear and draws runners from all over the world to our doors to run in it.
On Monday, April 15, 2013, as we watched the coverage of the marathon, we saw desecration and destruction unfold. Blasts were seen throwing people, shrapnel, and even body parts through the air. Smoke hung heavily over what had been a bright sunny spring day, throwing a cover of fear, terror, loss, and sadness as we witnessed the bravery and the enormity of the loss for so many who had been hurt in this bombing.
All day Monday, I worried and lived in dread for co-workers who have become dear to me. Where were they? Were they or their families hurt? We didn't know, finally early Tuesday, morning I saw the post on Facebook they were okay. April 16, 2013, understandably my friends weren't at work, having lived through such horrible events they took the day off, and we didn't see them till Wednesday. Never in my life have I been so happy to see someone and so relieved, yet more was still to come.
It was a senseless killing, each person asked why the marathon? What possible motivation could there be? No one had come forward claiming responsibility for the bombing. The authorities had no suspects. We waited and yes we feared, what would come next, would there be another, were there more bombs? We didn't know, no one except those responsible knew.
Yes, I live a good thirty minutes from the site of this tragedy, and one could think why it affected me so much. They would be right to think this and yet the state was on high alert. These terrorists could be anyone and anywhere.
Finally, on Thursday, April 17th, 2013, the first pictures were shown of the suspects. Two young men, normal looking young men. Still they were at large, but at least faces albeit fuzzy were shown us. The question still rang in our minds, why?
In the wee hours of Friday, April 18th, 2013, a MIT police officer was found shot in his patrol car. Video footage of one of the suspects robbing a convenience store was plastered all over the television and very shortly after that these two young men forced a woman at gun point, saying they were the marathon bombers to give up her car. She was unhurt, probably because they had no time to deal with her. A police chase ensued, gunshots ringing between the police and the suspects as they threw explosives out of the car windows and shot at police. A quiet neighborhood near Boston the scene of something one would expect only in a Bruce Willis movie, or another of that ilk.
As I watched and listened to this unfold, in real time on the television, I found myself visibly shaking again. The world as I knew it was gone, I was living in some movie. Yes, these things happen I knew it, but they didn't seem to touch us. At least not since 9/11 this surreal world of horror, terror, and war had not come to our streets in such a horrific way. The older of the two brothers was dead. Shot and then run over by his younger brother while fleeing the scene.
For an entire day, six towns had been on lock-down All traffic in or out had stopped. None of the mass transit was running. Life had stopped, people were told not to answer their doors, unless they could see it was a uniformed officer. They were told not to leave their homes and to stay away from the windows. Businesses and schools were closed, life had stopped and stood still as we watched and waited. The police did a door to door search of each and every house and business in the area.
We waited, until last night on April 19th, 2013, shortly after the press conference that alluded to the possibility that the surviving brother had slipped out of the net and could be anywhere, the world again erupted. A report of blood on a boat in the back yard in Watertown, not far from the scene of the older brother’s death came in. Again we watched it unfold as hundreds of law enforcement agents encircled the area.
We watched and listened as a gun battle ensued. The social media was filled with chatter, some blaming this group or that. Some bringing race into the debate. Some saying that we were in trouble if it took one thousand police officers to find one nineteen year old boy. To that I say, it is harder to find a needle in the haystack than to find an army on the hill. You do not know the area or what you are talking about. You may have lived through many awful things in inner cities, but you do not know the nature of finding one young man in a extremely crowded urban area. Remember he disappeared in the dark of the wee hours of the morning. He was not fleeing in broad daylight.
This isn't about race, religion, nationality, it is about terrorism. The cowardly act of enjoying causing another pain, of wrecking as much havoc as possible on others. Again why?
I can tell you no matter how far away you lived, you worried. He could have stolen another car, he could be anywhere with his guns and bombs. It could be you and your family or a friend of yours a town away. It didn't matter, for the week of April 15th through the 19th we were all Bostonians.
We all wanted him caught alive, we need to know why and if there are more? Who was behind this and are they in our country as I write this?
Much of the world has been living with this type of terror for over a decade now, and it has come home to the United States. It may be our new reality, and if so we will need to find a way to pull together, wrap our arms around our brothers and sister, no matter the color of their skin, their nationality or religion. We must stop thinking them and us and realize we are all a part of the same world.
I have felt the terror of this week, surely, not like the citizens of Watertown, Boston, Newton, Alston-Brighton, Cambridge, or Waltham, but it has been there all week. We will survive and we will conquer our fears, get over the stress that this has brought on and go on. We will all become stronger for it.
For a solid week, my dreams have been filled with fleeing crowds, bloody bodies, bombs, gun battles, the days after 9/11 are mixed in my mind and heart with the bloodbath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
A cry goes out from my heart and soul, even though I do not, nor have I lived in Boston proper, BOSTON STRONG, BOSTON BRAVE and today I know I am a Bostonian regardless of where I live in our great and brave state.