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.
Perhaps it's best that we don't.