A healing Boston embarks on “the road less traveled”
For Bostonians, the month of April signals Opening Day at Fenway Park and the rite of passage known as the Boston Marathon. On a national spectrum, April is known as National Poetry Month, a time when marathon poetry readings occur at various gatherings.
This Patriot’s Day, a holiday unique in nature to Massachusetts, took on a new meaning as it was a stage where a horrific tragedy unfolded. It continues to be a stage, as it now showcases the beginning of a city’s unified walk on a road less traveled in life.
Marathon Monday is made of physical duress and personal sacrifices. Marathoning is often referred to as a “lonely man’s race” as one runs solo to complete a 26.2 385 yard footrace. I find great irony in the idea of marathoning as a lonely man’s race, though, as Boston is showing the world that the word marathon has taken on new meaning.
The city of Boston has embraced a new race: a race to swift justice. The systemic and ripple effects of the explosions along Boylston Street will resonate for years to come, but the blasts will not go unheeded. Boston has now become synonymous with the phrase “Boston Strong”, and neither the oldest sports institution in the United States nor the city of Boston will be derailed.
At a recent poetry symposium in upstate New York, English professor Cristanne C. Miller spoke about unique poet Emily Dickinson, saying, “Dickinson helps to remind us as a community of the many profound things that matter in our lives.” The symposium was held on April 13th, two days before the running of the 117th Boston Marathon. No one could have had the foresight to know how significant that statement would become as the world at large was about to witness a carnival of pain.
As we now remember the many profound things that matter in our lives, we also remember the victims whose lives were cruelly torn from them.
Martin Richard is one of the many faces that have come to symbolize the tragedy of the disturbing bombings that occurred on Patriots’ Day. A mere eight years young, Martin was enjoying the race with his family as he had done in the past. Martin lived in a tight-knit community in Dorchester where neighborhood parties with families were the norm on Friday nights. He had gone to Little League practice the day before, and in the words of his coach, Sean McDonough, was “all smiles.”
Krystle Campbell was a 29-year-old woman who worked 16-hour shifts at a restaurant in her hometown of Medford. Her friends remembered her as a woman with a sunny disposition who was down to earth and always there to help a friend in need. She never strayed far from her roots and was proud to be from Boston. Krystle was at the finish line on Boylston Street last Monday to relish in the moment with a friend that was running the race.
Lingzi Lu was a 23-year-old graduate student at Boston University. Her parents referred to her as the “joy of our lives” and said she was excited to be studying in a city rich with history such as Boston. Her parents received the untimely news of their daughter’s death a world away in China.
Sean Collier met his demise on the campus of M.I.T. where he was shot in cold blood by the suspects. He was only 26 years old. Collier was lovingly remembered as an all-around great guy with plans of becoming a an officer with the Somerville Police Department.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two bombing suspects, called his mother to tell her he loved her moments before his death in a shootout in Watertown. Martin, Krystle, Lingzi and Sean were not afforded the luxury of being able to tell their mothers how much they were loved.
The senseless scenario that occurred on the streets of Boston bring to the surface a myriad of emotions. From Hopkinton and beyond, there is a sense of sadness, disbelief, shock and pain. Perhaps, like a poet whose pen meets paper, we can free ourselves by writing of the evil and hatred that was shown by the actions of these two suspects. We can show how that hatred is not going to define us as we move forward. We are all finding ourselves on this fresh course of the Boston Marathon. At times like this, I often feel the need to know less and yet in a strange paradox, I also want to learn more.
The late Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a civilization work.” Boston has now unwittingly become a symbol of how a team works and how strong a city can be. The city of Boston is on display and it shall not disappoint.The visual clock may have stopped on the race route, but it has just started ticking for all the families to receive some comfort and eventually a form of satisfactory closure.
Rocky Marciano, the famed Brockton prizefighter, once said, “In the ring, I never really felt fear.” Boston might have felt some fear last week, but it will come through this with the ferocity of a boxer. The citizens of Boston will not be straddling on the sides of the ropes; rather, it will be in the middle of the ring ready to pounce.
May justice be served in the timeliest of fashions.
In memory of Martin, Krystle, Lingzi and Sean and all those who suffered injuries and put their own lives on the line during this painful time in Boston.