When I first moved to Massachusetts (nearly seven years ago now) I didn’t know what Patriot’s Day was. I’d never heard of it before and was surprised to find that it was a big, highly celebrated Massachusetts state holiday that commemorates the anniversaries of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Those two battles were the first battles that started off the American Revolutionary War and our struggle towards freedom and independence There are annual reenactments of the battles in the morning in both Lexington and Concord. There’s also a ride down the same path Paul Revere made on that fateful day, calling out his famous warning, “The British are coming! The British are coming!”
Students are out of school and many people in Massachusetts have the day off. For MOST people in Massachusetts, Patriot’s Day marks the day for the Boston Marathon. People come from all over the state and the world to line up along the 26 mile path and cheer the runners on.
It is the world’s oldest annual marathon. It attracts people from all parts of the Earth to compete, either with each other or with just themselves. It’s open for both professional and amateur qualifying runners. Meaning, it’s democratic.
Tens of thousands of regular everyday people run the course in any given year, many of them for specific charities or personal causes.
And yesterday, somebody decided to set off two explosions at the finish line.
So far, the morning after, there are 3 dead and over 100 injured. There are photos of people with their legs and limbs completely blown off. There are sidewalks awash in blood and gore. Images of people fleeing, cheeks tear-streaked, clad in athletic gear and running shoes.
In horrific and senseless moments like these, I try and look for the silver linings. The fact that there were so many first responders on hand to jump into immediate action and start saving the people who had been caught in the blast.
The fact that Massachusetts is known for it’s world class medical hospitals all within a short distance of the explosions, specifically geared towards traumas like these. Those are things we can point to and be thankful for.
I was inspired by the photos of regular race watchers running up to the fences and barricades that had fallen on people and helping lift and pry them apart with the policemen and official volunteers.
There was a Google document passed around twitter offering thousands of displaced racers food and shelter from Bostonians wanting to help. Remember, a lot of these people are not only visiting from out of town, but from out of the country.
After the explosions went off, the whole place went into lock down and was cleared out. Many of the racers and people couldn’t get to their cars or hotel rooms. Some didn’t even have access to their keys or cell phones being held by loved ones. They basically were stranded in the middle of a foreign city with no resources and unsure of where to go or what to do.
This is an international event. Our world is so interconnected now that this can’t simply be seen as an attack on Americans. That’s one of the things I think whoever did this doesn’t understand (among many.) Things are not as delineated as they once were. We are Earthlings, first.
One of the images that’s burned into my mind are the flags from all around the world streaming in the wind that the explosions made, then falling to the pavement. All the flags representing the world, being trampled on by people who hastened to help and rescue. Country colors muted, lying there, in the blood and debris.
Coincidentally, about a day and a half ago, just a day before this tragic event, I added a flag counter to my website. You can find it on the right-hand side-bar. In a little less than the 48 hours it’s been up, I’ve already collected 29 flags.
There’s a forum site that supports this seemingly simple little widget. On it, you’ll find people from all around the world asking to exchange flag clicks. I’ve visited many of their sites, giving them my +1 US flag. In doing so, I’ve found beautiful photography, music, art, food recipes, posts on life and love. All the usual and everyday things that people care about. It doesn’t matter where you’re from.
I don’t know who perpetrated this attack on us. It makes me sick to hear of some of the conclusions people are so quick to jump to and the amount of hate and vitriol that can come from something like this. Hate and vitriol is what leads to events like this.
I do know that whoever has done this attack has greatly underestimated the resiliency and the goodness in most people – and of the American people, specifically.
Remember, the Boston Marathon commemorates and marks the beginning of our Revolutionary War. We have known struggles like these; we have conquered them before.
Together, we will again.