I’m gonna tell you a story
I’m gonna tell you about my town
I’m gonna tell you a big bad story, baby
Aww, it’s all about my town
Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
That’s where you’ll find me
Along with lovers, fuggers, and thieves
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home
– The Standells
I was fortunate to have been born in that City on a Hill and have never forgotten that Boston was my place of birth. There might be over 900 miles between us currently, but there is no getting away from your roots, especially when you still have family who reside there.
Especially on a day like Monday, which was Patriots’ Day in Boston. The holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. People take the day off to flood into downtown Boston. The Boston Red Sox have traditionally played a morning game on Patriots’ Day. In Indianapolis we have the Indy 500 and the entire month of May. We joke about how the entire month of May should be a holiday. In Massachusetts, Patriots’ Day is just that — a state holiday.
The banks may be open but the fish stores are closed. People are at work, but nothing is getting done as they have the Red Sox game on the radio and the Marathon on TV.
Imagine Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend, but with close to a million people in Boston and you will have some idea of what Monday was like in Beantown. Millions turned out for a day in the sun, and then….tragedy and terror struck as someone thought it would be cute to set up bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I tried the best I could Monday to ignore news coverage, but there was no getting past the words bomb and Boston, I had to look. And I began to cry. Much like the events unfolding before our eyes on Sept. 11, 2001, we, as a country, gathered around television sets and computer screens completely shocked with what we were seeing.
I vividly remember everything about Sept. 11, 2001. I can recall getting ready for a day of classes at Newberry College and my wife and I turning on the television just in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I can remember that horrific feeling in the pit of my stomach – watching mass chaos and tragedy ensue in a city that I had only heard about from family.
It returned with Boston, but something was different. Dammit, this was my town — this was at one time my backyard. I have walked Boylston Street. I have been to Copley Square and Boston Common. And I, perhaps like you, thought we would never see another terrorist attack on our streets.
We believed we were safe. We believed that bombings at sporting events only happened in places like Iraq or at South American soccer games. We believed that we would never see terrorism again – domestic or foreign, strike us on our streets and in our neighborhoods. And then, on Monday, we did. There were explosions, there were fireballs and there was smoke rising. Crowds of people screamed while first responders again, rushed to those in need.
Currently three are dead. Many were maimed and scores of people were injured all in a scary and gruesome reminder that the threat of terrorism isn’t something we’ve put behind us.
Monday offered no doubt that we are still engaged with terrorists, whether they be domestic or foreign, and that despite what those in Washington, D.C., may have you believe, we are no safer today than we were on Sept. 10, 2001. There are plenty of unanswered questions right now such as “Who are responsible?” and “Why did they do it?” Unfortunately we may never get those answers, as it has been 12 years since 9/11 and we, as a country, still struggle to fully grasp why we were attacked.
But here is what I do know: Much like Sept. 11, life will go on. Boston is a tremendous city that will bounce back, as will its people. And I know that the words of former President George W. Bush ring as true today as they did on that tragic day in the late summer of 2001, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
We will win this fight.