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The Boston Marathon Bombings

I took 9/11 personally. I don't think I'm going out a limb in saying all Americans did. It was our country that was attacked. It's the place that informs who we are. They attacked our home. I considered how New Yorkers probably felt, but I don’t think I was ever really able to put myself in their shoes. For them it wasn’t just their country that was attacked, it was their neighborhood. It was just across town, a few blocks away, right up the street. It was their immediate community. I could understand but I couldn't really UNDERSTAND.

I think I do now. That area on Boylston, that place that I watched explode on TV yesterday, I've been there many, many times. I did my college internship right there. I love that area. Even though I no longer live in the city I still proudly identify myself with Boston and I always will. I grew up just a forty-five minute drive from it all. Those are my people. That is my home. It's personal in a whole new way.

Thousands died on 9/11. A big difference in yesterday's tragedy, one that I take great solace in, is the volume of life lost, only three at the time I write this. I pray it stays at three. Regardless of the number, any loss of life is always a horrible thing. Especially when it’s lost to something that is the very definition of cowardly. Especially when one of those dead is a young child. That's to say nothing of all the injuries sustained, horrible life altering injuries.

What makes this one so ugly and hurtful is context. It was the Boston Marathon. People come from all over the world to compete. They train all year. It’s one of the toughest athletic events you can partake in. It’s 26.2 miles. It’s a universally recognized symbol of peace and community. It’s a joyous event and speaking as a Bostonian, it’s something we’re proud to host every year. It’s held on Patriot’s Day. We’re proud of our history here.

The bombs went off later on, after the elite runners had long crossed the finish line. The people running the race at this point are what one of the eyewitnesses called “the average Joes”. These were the people who weren’t seeking any glory really. They weren’t trying to win it. They just wanted to participate. They wanted to say they ran and finished The Boston Marathon because they know that’s a big deal, not just as a personal accomplishment but because they’re now a part of that tradition and history. Many of them were running for charities. Proud family members were waiting for them at the finish line.

Some of the images that stay with me are of the runners walking away, wrapped in the thermal blankets, shell-shocked. Many never crossed the finish line. What was supposed to be a day where they did something they could be proud of for the rest of their lives had become something tainted. I don’t want to equate that in any way with those who had limbs blown off or those who lost their lives. It’s just another facet that gnaws at me. Something beautiful and innocent took a big hit. I refuse to say it was ruined because it wasn’t.

I’ll say this once. To whoever is responsible, I don’t care who you are. I don’t care why you did it. Not because I can’t face it, but because I don’t care what you have to say. I already know it’s complete bullshit. There is literally no good reason why you slaughtered innocent people at a peaceful event. If I had my way, no one would ever know who you are or what your motivation was. You’d remain an anonymous fucking stain and in time you’d be completely forgotten. The only thing I want to hear about is your arrest and punishment. Best-case scenario, I’ll get to hear that you resisted arrest and Boston PD themselves had to put you down. I’d like to hear about that. I don’t hate you. I won’t waste energy on holding any ill will towards you once you're gone. There’s no point. You didn’t do anything with your life worth remembering so I won’t remember you.

I’d rather remember the sight of Bostonians, police and civilian alike, even military, tearing down that partition to get at the very place that exploded just seconds before. They didn’t know whether that area was safe, if everything that was going to go off had gone off. They didn’t care. People were in trouble and needed immediate help.

There were reports of runners continuing on running right to Mass General to give blood. I’ve never run 26 miles but I’m told your mind and body are both a quivering mess at the end. You’re in no condition to give blood. I don't know if those reports are true but it wouldn't surprise me. People help out when it’s needed. It's just how we are.

That guy who we all saw fall as the first bomb went off? That’s Bill Iffrig. He’s 78. He still finished.

When the Yankees made their first appearance at Fenway following 9/11, they were serenaded with “New York, New York” by a ball park full of Red Sox fans. If you know anything about baseball that’s about as heartwarming as it gets. I was extremely heartened to see the sentiment returned throughout New York with things like this in Brooklyn:

That’s the thing here. If you attack one city in this country EVERY city takes it personally. Thanks for bringing us all together.

This won’t ruin the Boston Marathon. It will actually have ten times the meaning and significance next year. I would not be at all surprised to find many of the victims, even those who lost limbs, participating next year. They'll find a way to make it work. I wouldn’t even be surprised in the least if there are a record number of participants over all. The Boston Marathon is already a symbol of resilience, the physical resilience it takes to run 26.2 miles. It will now be seen as a symbol of resilience in the spirit of community as well. We can’t be broken. I can even see Patriots’ Day spreading to other parts of the country. Why not? It’s just how Americans work. The day now has meaning outside of New England. We're all patriots. You mess with one, you mess with all.