Today, the world’s attention returns to Boston. While the one-year anniversary of the bombings at the 2013 marathon was marked April 15, this year, Patriots Day – the traditional day for running the historic 26.2-mile race – came later by a few days.
In many ways, this span of days has given us all a rare chance to both remember and heal. We were able to hear and watch the survivors’ stories; we were able to measure the year’s emotional toll on Boston and the millions of people affected by last year’s tragic events. Now, as if we shook off the emotional tributes of last week, attention more seriously has turned back in an almost stoic show of endurance and strength.
The city, its runners and the Boston Athletic Association all want to show the world exactly how strong they all are. Runners from across the globe converged on the city this weekend, proudly wandering the streets, unafraid, undeterred by wearing their running garb and showing a unity against forces of evil.
That sounds cliché, but it’s true.
Across social media, posts and tweets were overflowing with people reclaiming the city with prideful statuses and messages; selfies were taken at notable landmarks from Hopkinton to Boston, or against the backdrop of inspirational quotes put up around Beantown as a reminder of Boston Strong.
Today’s Boston Marathon, the 118th running, is something truly unique to the race. It is a no-holds-barred push beyond bloodshed toward a finish line that, ultimately, means something different for every person making the journey
Last year, the streets proved to be lined with heroes like police and firefighters, and extraordinary citizens, and even runners and race volunteers. In the weeks following the bombings that killed three and injured more than 260, their stories moved us to tears and taught us just how far the extreme could be between human fragility and the human spirit.
Today we will see runners like April Rogers Farnham of Plainfield, who was pulled off the race course last year a half-mile from the finish. The bombs had stopped her race but not her determination. As she told reporters over the last few weeks, the tragedy only strengthened her resolve, and gave her a whole new level of will.
Scores of other Vermonters are making the journey today, too. Every single person knows what is at stake and what this race means beyond times and distance. Today is the metric of our healing.
With the world watching, no one will see any more grief. We will see an army of athletes, loved ones, friends and citizens working toward a different cause: rewriting history in order to shout down the demons of last year.
“The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are,” said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
Most runners will tell you their sport is about freedom – personal accomplishment, meditation, motivation and self-discipline. Every step the thousands of runners take at today’s Boston Marathon will be a thunderous charge beyond all limits.
Once again, Boston will make history. And there will be a new breed of hero, this time they will be every person crossing the finish line, marking a new start. They will finish to spite all terrorism and succeed with a certain unison. They will all win. That is as patriotic as you can get.
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