Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep running past the finish line

Unless you've lived here or been present for Patriot's Day in Boston, it's nearly impossible to adequately describe what the day means to us. It's our high holiday and our proudest day to be Bostonians. The Red Sox 11am home game and the moving party that starts on the town green in Hopkinton and ends in the Back Bay are part of our DNA.

Twenty years ago, I was in Washington D.C. I was working in Barney Frank's office at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill. On that Patriot's Day, the Branch Davidian compound in Waco went whoosh. There was a grand total of one television in the office, and no internet. For hours, people just stood and watched the building burn. I found myself incredibly homesick. All I could think (and unfortunately, say) was "Ok, but who won the Marathon? How did the Red Sox do? How can I find this out?" It (rightly) pissed off a lot of people, but all I wanted was to be back home in Boston, watching my beloved Red Sox and the Marathon.

The Marathon is Capistrano, and we can't help but come back to it. I've been at the finish line lots of times. I once lived on Beacon Street in Brookline near Cleveland Circle, and had the great joy of the runners streaming by my front door. I had briefly thought about taking yesterday off and heading downtown to watch the race and enjoy the atmosphere in Copley Square, but I had a client meeting in the morning, and so I was at my desk when P called to ask if I knew what had happened.

That the attack was timed to take place on Boston's holiest day can't be forgotten, or forgiven. Since the moment of the bombings, public and social media poured out millions of expressions of support and solidarity. Americans in every city know this could have happened anywhere, at any public event. Yesterday, it hit Boston. We don't know yet who is responsible or why. The answers will come, but in the meantime, we're all walking through the stages of grief together. To that end, this link describes the soul of Bostonians better than I could. Finally, there's a piece of dialog from the West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael," which was created as a set piece immediately after 9/11. In it, Aaron Sorkin (through Sam Seaborn) teaches the most important lesson about the nature of terrorism.

Like every city ever hit by senseless, murderous cowardice, we'll get through this. Today it seems ludicrous and impossible that we could even process this monstrous insult to the collective psyche, but we will. As a people, we always do. We should probably acknowledge that Patriot's Day may never be quite the same again. We may never be able to erase yesterday's memories from our collective consciousness.

Perhaps it's best that we don't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like so many of your posts, this is thoughtful, heartfelt and I learn something interesting about you I never knew before. Blessings to you and yours, David.