For anyone not familiar with the Boston Marathon - it's a HUGE event. It's a world class event, welcoming thousands of runners from all over the world. An event that has been going on since 1897. It's always held on Patriots Day, which is a holiday in Massachusetts. Not only do families and friends of the thousands of runners come to cheer on their dads, moms, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons and spouses, but so does half of Boston and all the towns along the race route. Thousands of cheering, happy people there for a day of triumph and celebration.
A few years back my son ran in this prestigious race. This year my nephew and his family were in Boston to cheer on the runners. It was a beautiful day - a perfect day for a race. The streets are lined for over twenty-six miles with folk who come out to cheer the runners on, hand off bottled water and enjoy the tradition. The finish line loomed just a few feet away, complete with flags, bleachers and cheering crowds. If it hadn't been for an antsy toddler, my nephew might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A time when someone wanted to hurt America by setting off two improvised bombs with the sole purpose of creating as much pain and loss as possible.
Is this the price we pay for being who we are? For the freedoms we enjoy? For the prosperity and all that America stands for? We don't yet know if it was terrorists from outside, or disgruntled, home-grown terrorists, but whoever chose this path to express their hatred, they won't win. Boston is better than this. America is better than this.
In the chaotic seconds and minutes after the first and then the second bomb exploded, echoing off the buildings and leaving screaming bloody victims in their wake, heroes rushed in. Runners that had just finished the race, bystanders there to cheer folk across the finish line, medical personnel on hand to assist exhausted runners, soldiers, policemen, volunteers. Many didn't know what had happened. Many didn't know where to go or what to do. But so very many ran toward the scene of destruction with the sole purpose of doing whatever they could. Some runners, already exhausted by covering 26 miles to reach that point ran two more miles to donate blood at area hospitals. That's what America is made of.
Boston is a wonderful city with history, tradition and soul. I know it will regain its confidence, even if it has lost a piece of its innocence. There will be grieving and those whose lives have been forever changed have a long hard road ahead. But America is pulling for them. When the runners and spectators return next year, there may be an edge of defiance, but the race will go on. Boston will celebrate. America will triumph again. My thoughts and prayers are with all who were touched most deeply. God bless you today and in all the difficult days ahead.