Monday, April 15th, 2013: A day that will be remembered as one of the most tragic in the city of Boston.
Monday, April 21st, 2014: A day that will be remembered as a testament of courage, strength, and perseverance by the people of Boston.
Before writing this post, I sat at my computer staring at a blank page for almost an hour, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say about the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. I knew I wanted to talk about it in some fashion, but I was at a loss. We try to keep things lighthearted on our blog, but the events last year didn’t stop us from writing about it (x,x).
As I look back at how devastating that day was, I remembered how I couldn’t stop watching the news play out like a movie as police put the city on lockdown and searched for the college-kid bomber, and how I had a weird unsettling feeling in the weeks after, and how my mind kept going back to one thing: how incredibly proud I was to see the people of Boston, a city I used to (and still do) call home, come together as one resilient unit.
We all know that immediately after the bombs went off, there were people who ran towards the site to help injured victims, as opposed to running in the opposite direction. First responders, police officers, marathon volunteers, even those who were running the race stopped to take care of strangers. This was just the first of many examples of courage and kindness to come out of a horrible event.
In the hours, days and weeks that followed, stories of heroism and love came to light, like cowboy-hat wearing Carlos Arredondo, whose instinct to run towards survivor Jeff Bauman and stay with him until he received help after losing two legs -and that image became one of the most memorable moments captured from that day; editors at Boston Magazine created a simple yet powerful image of running shoes from those who participated in the marathon and gave them a chance to share their own personal stories from that day; and even this makeshift memorial that was created right after it happened. A usually bustling Boylston Street (where it all went down) was still closed off, but people still came by to show their respects.
Nearly a month after that fateful day, I returned to Boston to attend my friends’ wedding – one of whom had been running the marathon but finished well before the bombs went off. This memorial was moved a few blocks down to an area just a stone’s throw away from the finish line, and also happened to be an area where I used to walk across every day to get to work. The familiar setting paired with an unsettling yet powerful tribute was like a feeling I’ve never had before. Of sadness and grief, but also pride for what this city has done to show their support.
Prior to living in Boston, I had no idea that A) the Boston Marathon was such a huge deal B) Patriots’ Day, the day of the Marathon, is a state holiday in which there’s no school, and usually no work for the adults. People flock to the course to watch people run by. The marathon has always been unique in that the course goes through a ton of residential areas, where people will sit on the sidelines and cheer people on – whether they know them or not. And I can’t help but think this year, the sidewalks will be filled with more people than ever before. It is that kind of support that is so overwhelming it brings tears to my eyes. So often we get caught up in being negative and frustrated with people who make us mad every single day, but in the end, we have to remember that we’re all in this together. That’s all we can do – stand together. Every single person who was there to physically help at the finish line, every doctor, nurse, every person who donated money to the One Fund, proved that the city of Boston isn’t just made of individuals, it’s a city that can come together even in the darkest of times and still find a way to take charge and go into the light.
Boston proved that the only way to combat this hateful crime wasn’t with waging war – it was by showing that a trying time only brings them together, forces them to be stronger, more resilient than ever before.
Celeste Corcoran became a double amputee after the bombings. She’s spent the past year learning how to walk again and determined to stay strong on her own two feet in the face of something so tragic. Through the Dear World project, Celeste, along with her daughter Sydney who severed a femoral artery in the blast, were able to return to the finish line a few weeks ago, stronger than ever before.
She said, “I had never been back, and this was about reclaiming it. That finish line has been a negative space since the marathon. This was about reclaiming that space in a positive way. I chose to be there. I took back control.”
And that’s exactly what the people of Boston and thousands more will do on Patriots’ Day – take back control. Boston isn’t a city to easily back down. I think that reputation precedes them. After the bombings, it’s hard to imagine anything that will rattle Boston and its people. It’s a city that is so incredibly loved by the residents and exudes so much pride that it’s contagious the moment you enter the city limits. It’s a character of its own and that character will never concede, never show signs of defeat, never waver in the face of adversity. I mean this is a town where the Boston Red Sox, seemingly the soul of the city, had to endure an 86 year wait for a World Series championship. And season after season, the fans said, ‘we’ll get ’em next year’. It’s about staying strong, Boston Strong.
During a tribute held last week, hundreds of survivors and first responders gathered to pay tribute to the lives lost and the ones who made it out with heads held high. Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech that pretty much summed up the whole spirit of the city, that will be carried on this Patriots’ Day and every one from now on: