This city has a fierce resiliency: thoughts on the Boston Marathon tragedy

Published On April 15, 2013 | By Jill Saftel

I’m 21 years old. In my time, I’ve seen terrorist attacks and shootings, experienced tragedy. But never in my own back yard, never in my city. Today, that changed.

I found myself huddled around the television in my apartment with more than a dozen friends, over for a party on their day off. We watched in silence as information of what had occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon evolved. Tears came and went as did calls and texts from home. Had we not decided to celebrate the marathon with an afternoon of foolish team drinking games, we all would have gone out to watch.

I’ve never been so thankful for my three roommates’ penchant for partying. Not only were we all safe, we were together.

But many weren’t as lucky. Even for those who were unharmed, I cannot imagine the emotional pain that will result from this. I am so glad I left my part-time job at Copley Place when I did, avoiding the turmoil that would have met me had I left the building an hour later.

Marathon Monday is a sacred day in Boston, nothing short of a holiday. Most of the city’s residents have the day off, families flock to the race route to cheer runners on, enjoy Boston, and take in what’s usually among the first days of spring.

More than just a sporting event, Marathon Monday is a celebration of vitality in Boston. From the strength of the runners to the buzz in the city – everything comes alive. Who would want to ruin that?

We don’t know. We might not know for some time. But I do know I saw people respond in the bravest way possible:  Running into the devastation rather than away, and Boston’s finest first responders showing why they’re just that. And around the city and Massachusetts, us regular folks tried to help in any way we could. From offering words of comfort to a place to live, every one pitched in. If you haven’t seen the Google spreadsheet of Bostonians offering up their homes for displaced runners and their families, go take a look. It’s astounding.

Patriots’ Day and the Boston Marathon will never be the same. This day will always be marked by tragedy, but it will not be defined by tragedy. The Monday in April we love so much will someday be better than it ever was before. People will run again, and we will cheer again. We will not let this cruel and senseless act of violence define a day of athleticism and a celebration of freedom that means so much to this city.

I am stunned. I am sad. But most of all, I am hopeful. This city has an unmatched, fierce resiliency. We drop our R’s and give bad directions and brag about our sports teams (they’re still better than yours). But Bostonians showed their true colors Monday night. We are kind. We are caring. We are generous.

Marathon Monday will be back. Boston will be back. You can bet on it.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.