On Monday, as I attended to household chores, the marathon was streaming in the background on one of the local stations with the sound off. All of a sudden there was a shout from another room to look at the marathon coverage. The events that unfolded changed my day, and that of many others. The quiet gloriously bright sunny Patriots Monday was shattered with two explosions in quick succession, followed by smoke that blocked the blue sky and introduced a new reality. The horror was in our living rooms the moment it happened; we all felt it.
I just stare at the television with just one thing on my mind “9/11”; how could it happen again.
As Monday progressed I literally stood in front of the TV spell bound once again by the live images caught from every vantage point possible. Eventually the first few minutes of the bombing and chaos were repeated over and over again and still I stood and watched.
News started to trickle about injuries while being very cautious to reports deaths. But we knew that there had to be both. Soon a picture of a little boy holding a First Communion sign emerged and the first fatality of the bombing was announced, followed by reports of two more fatalities. Martin Richard, 8 years old from Dorchester, died in the blast as he watched the runners race to the finish line; Lingzi Lu, a Boston University student living far away from her Chinese family died in the arms of strangers, and Krystal Campbell, a native of Medford, died from her wounds and her family’s only consolation is that the nurse who attended her said, “She didn’t die alone and didn’t suffer long.”
A lot has been reported about the people of Boston and their resilience, determination, and grit to push on. Yet there was a very eerie feeling by mid week in Boston as I became one of the gawkers on the corner of Boylston and Berkley Streets. Looking down Boylston Street past the barrier I saw a little rubbish heap, a Dunkin Donut cup deserted by its owner and waiting to be picked up. There was a parked Penske rental truck that seemed out of place. The scene was almost postcard-like where the image stays and only fades with time. However, the frozen-in-time image was occasionally interrupted by gust of wind that blew now and then to remind us that this is real and a deadly explosion had occurred just days before.
The happy ending to this story is that the perpetrators were apprehended, one was killed and one is in hospital. Of course this is not a happy ending because another life was lost. Sean Collier, a 26 year old MIT campus patrol officer and Somerville resident, was the fourth fatality gunned down by “little men” on the run.
There is a new reality for the families of the dead and a rebuilding of lives of the wounded. Lives have been changed; a city and its people have been changed. But through the determination of wanting to live a free and peaceful life, people like the Tsarnaev brothers won’t dampen the spirits of Bostonians or turn free people of the world into scared immobile people. On the contrary, it is after horrendous acts like this that people show their strength and resolve to soldier on with a renewed determination to protect and stand up for the freedom and way of life that we all enjoy.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”