The Boston Marathon, and Patriots’ Day as a whole, is one of the most anticipated days on the calendar for the city of Boston. It signifies the end of the cold winter and the start of summer cookouts and baseball games while uniting the city in a way few events can.
Monday’s events on Boylston Street threatened that state of mind, sending the city and its residents into a state of panic instead of celebration, terror instead of jubilation, sadness instead of achievement.
Three people have passed away from their injuries, including an 8-year-old boy named Martin Richard who, just moments before the bomb went off, hugged his father and congratulated him on his achievement of finishing the Marathon. Martin’s story is an example of how something so pure and wonderful can turn dark and tragic in a matter of moments.
In the midst of the craziness and inhumanity, there was something else: heroism. Boston Police officers, Boston Athletic Association workers, Bostonians and members of the National Guard ran towards the chaos and carnage without so much as a second thought.
Runners who were finishing a race they had spent countless hours training for kept running through the finish line to Mass General Hospital to donate blood in such copious amounts that the Red Cross stopped taking the donations just two hours after the bombs went off.
The people of Boston responded to this unthinkable situation in extraordinary ways, and their compassion and capacity for selflessness has been a bright light in an otherwise dark and tragic week.
But I believe the people of Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and every other city in this country would have reacted in the same exact way. In just the last year or so, this country has faced horrific acts of violence, but we have answered such acts with unbelievable courage.
Another change has been the way we react to these events as a people. In the past, attention would immediately center around who was responsible and when they would be brought to justice. The focus this week has been on the victims, the first responders and the human stories that come out of such trying times.
Just a brief look at Twitter, Facebook or any other form of social media is all it took to see all of the people wishing the best to those affected. For every post demanding justice, there were thousands offering prayers, aid and ways those outside the city could make a difference.
Technology has made a big world very small, and on Monday, technology made it that much smaller. Google set up a person finder, people in Boston set up a Google document with addresses and how much space they could offer people who couldn’t get home.
The “#prayforboston” hashtag was trending worldwide on Twitter for 13 hours following the attack.
More information on those responsible for the attack will come out in the coming days, but in the midst of all of the anger and sadness, try to remember the heroes who emerged from the chaos.
Like Bill Iffrig, the 78-year-old man who fell to the ground following the initial blast, but got back on his feet to finish the race.
Like the National Guardsmen who ran directly into the chaos to rip down temporary fencing to help those at the epicenter of the explosion.
Like the hundreds of runners who kept on running to give blood for those missing limbs and covered in shrapnel.
When things look darkest, remember those people and the capacity for courage human beings have.
Rest in Peace
Martin Richard, 8
Lingzi Lu, 23
Krystle Campbell, 29