Things were so different a week ago.
I spent the long weekend with my parents, a half hour south of Boston. "Marathon Monday" is a holiday here in Massachusetts, Patriots' Day. It commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. My office was closed yesterday as tens of thousands lined the streets for the 117th Boston Marathon.
It opens today a somber place, the city around it scarred by senseless violence.
The train into Boston was quiet, its passengers friendly but reserved. Heavy security met us at South Station, a bustling hub of morning activity reduced to a crawl. City and state police patrolled the concourse, some with rifles and riot gear. Dog teams sniffed from one luggage rack to the next. Groups of runners stood everywhere, obvious in their bright blue jackets. Dozens of travelers wore past years' colors. Some cried.
I work at the State House. It's an easy walk from South Station, through Downtown Crossing and around the Boston Common. The park is normally crowded on mornings like these, warm and bright for April in New England. Today it stood empty, a grim reminder of the fear which still grips the city.
The State House, too, is different. More security, of course, with armored vehicles along the sidewalks. Governor Patrick has informed state employees that while key buildings have been searched and secured, a heightened police presence should be expected throughout the day. Armed guards and random searches, perhaps dogs. All told, I'm probably one of the safest people in Massachusetts.
This isn't how it's supposed to be, not in our city. No one targets Boston, not like New York or Washington. This is the quiet backwater to their center stage. Proud and prosperous, but inoffensive. Yet terror came to Boston all the same, disrupting a century-old tradition of sportsmanship beloved the world over.
Three innocent lives have been lost, among them an 8-year-old boy, and over a hundred injured. The city mourns, but it will survive. Just as New York emerged from the shadow of 9/11, so will Boston rebuild from 4/15. We as a nation have suffered worse, and we as a nation will ensure that those responsible feel "the full weight of justice."
Whoever attacked the Boston Marathon should have paid closer attention.
They struck on Patriots' Day, the day a handful of minutemen won Lexington and Concord. The day Boston rose against an empire. The day Massachusetts sparked a revolution unlike any the world had ever seen. As they say, history repeats itself.
Bring it on.