I spent 18 years of my life in Massachusetts, growing up in the commonwealth; I am a proud Bay State resident. I’ll follow sports, for the Red Sox, the Patriots, and at times, the Celtics and the Bruins. I breathe in the sea air on the Cape, marvel at the historic streets, buildings, and famous homes in Boston, and every time I return home to the rolling Berkshire Hills, my heart fills with joy and peace. I cheer when stories grace the front pages of papers about the strength of Massachusetts public education, when the state embraces ideals of equity and dare I say – at times even radical policy changes. I may love my adopted city of Washington, D.C, but I will always identify with the great state of John (and John Quincy) Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Mann, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Susan B. Anthony to name just a few.
On Monday, Patriot’s Day, in the city where the fate of a nation hinged on lamps in the Belfry tower and the historic midnight ride of Paul Revere, a horrific event shook the city, and stunned the nation. In the confusion immediately following the breaking news alert, it just made no sense. Why this day, this event, who was responsible, how could they do this, how did they do it? I stood on the replica of the Concord Bridge with my eighth grade classmates and recited my segment of Paul Revere’s Ride in turn; on Patriot’s Day, we celebrate the beginning of the war we fought for our independence, and right for self-governance. I recently re-read the Declaration of Independence, and once again, marveled at the true courage displayed by those who signed this historic statement. Patriot’s Day is a Massachusetts holiday, but growing up, it is one I was tremendously proud to celebrate – and I wasn’t even in Boston proper.
Out of the smoke and horrific images of blood-stained pavement, the character of humanity rises up to embrace the mourning city and we comfort each other. We thank the heroes who ran towards the chaos in the moments after the explosions, whose quick thinking may have saved several lives. The media showed some restraint, practicing thoughtful reporting, and warnings surfaced on social media urging people to be cautious in their sharing of information.
I watch people stand up together, around the world, and it makes me feel grateful, so very grateful. I know people who could have gone to the race, but didn’t. I know people whose relatives decided not to go, or who weren’t watching from the finish line. In the minutes following the news, I watched my Facebook feed showing updates from family, friends and many Middlebury alumni, much to my relief. I saw links encouraging people to donate blood via the Red Cross, and people posting resources to track runners still on course to see where they last checked in.
The day closed with evening reporting, and a satellite shot of Boston from the International Space Station. Today, solidarity amongst citizens trumped sports rivalry as the Yankees observed a moment of silence and the two teams exchanged sentiments via Twitter. On Tuesday, Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino established the One Fund Boston, Inc to help those affected by the attack. President Obama condemned the acts of violence, promising the full support of the federal government in the investigation and will travel to grieve with the city, as he has already done far too many times with American communities across the country. This time, this time, it is my home state capital. And, I stand with Boston.
The investigations are beginning; people are combing security footage, searching for evidence, for answers. No matter what happens, it seems impossible to imagine understanding the motives or reasons behind such an event. At the very least, I hope that justice will be served, according to our institution of law, a key component of our structure of government that is a hallmark of the American way of life. Not always perfect, but a process we hope that will bring those responsible to face the court of law and to try and provide victims, their families, Boston, and the country, a sense of closure. It can never bring back those who lost their lives, or replace lost limbs.
We want truth and answers, and I hope in the process we ensure that the right people stand to answer for these acts of senseless violence. In the days and weeks ahead, we will see instances of racial profiling, heightened fear and uncertainty (the increased police presence on the Metro tonight on my way home). We will see public figures and commentators pointing figures, but we must figure out answers carefully and methodically – knowing they may prove people’s worst fears to be true – or not.
In the hours and days following, I give thanks for my wonderful family and friends, and the true heroic actions of so many.
My thoughts are with those who were personally affected, especially the families of those who died. May we all stand together in the days and weeks ahead.