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As Long as We Remember...

April 17, 2013

Tragedy Strikes at Heart of America

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The cheers of joy and excitement quickly turned to screams of terror on Monday at 2:50 in the afternoonwhen an act of senseless horror shattered the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, arguable the world’s oldest and most prestigious endurance foot race.


The marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day in Boston and the holiday had blossomed into a beautiful spring day. The Massachusetts state holiday “commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution in 1775.”


The Boston Marathon brings-out approximately 500,000 spectators and visitors to the city for what can be described as Christmas and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one.


The bombs shattered the celebrations of the runners, families, and spectators- and once again, shook us to our core. The heinous act served as an unwelcome reminder that no one is safe anywhere in a world where senseless acts of violence are perpetrated upon the innocent to promote a political or ideological agenda.


To be certain, as news reports of the chaos and carnage continued to consume the media, there were no clear indications as to whom or what organization may have planted the bombs; and as of late into Monday evening, no one has taken responsibility for the attack; and there are no known suspects.


Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis “said Boston police were not aware of any specific threat to the marathon before it began. Police said they had no one in custody and no suspects, but the Boston Globe reported that a ‘person of interest’ who was injured in the blast was being questioned at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Monday night.


What is known is that more than four hours into the race and approximately two-hours after the first runners had crossed the finish line, two explosions, barely 16 seconds and about 50 yards apart, went off at the finish line; at Marathon Sports – and near the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Copley Square.


Various media accounts noted that the race clock read 04:09:43 – 4 hours, 9 minutes, and 43 seconds into the race… or about the time period when many runners cross the finish line. Yahoo! News reported that “Authorities found and dismantled five more explosive devices in the area, according to The Wall Street Journal.


For those who are not familiar with the fabled history of what we know today as a “marathon” foot race; the 26 mile, 385 yard event dates back to antiquity when a Greek foot soldier named Pheidippides ran that distance from the Battle of Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. during the first Persian invasion of Greece.


Many reports noted that the response by Boston police, Massachusetts National Guard units and emergency medical personnel was prompt, well-coordinated and very professional.


The outpouring of generosity of Boston residents has also not gone unnoticed.In the face of tragedy, Bostonians stand-out looking like winners in spite of the fact that all of humanity, our collective sense of well-being and personal security are among the losers from Monday’s horror. Much of what is left of our sense of decency was further eroded.


The news hit home in Maryland quickly. Although varying accounts noted that anywhere from 23,000 to 27,000 runners participated in this year’s marathon, the ‘running community’ is relatively close-knit. The sport of running facilitates a common bond that quickly transcends gender, nationality or politics. Runners are different.


Of course, not to be overlooked is that if many distance runners were to be honest about it, ‘everyone’ dreams of finishing in the money at the event that is organized by the prestigious Boston Athletic Association – that awards runners about $800,000 in prize money.


Closer to home, according to Baltimore’s WJZ TV, “There were 448 runners from Maryland, including 59 from Baltimore, who took part in …” this year’s Boston Marathon. Over the years I have known several participants including at one least one family member.


Runners somewhat look upon the Boston Marathon as the “super bowl” of global running events and follow it closely. Some runners refer to the much-anticipated annual event as the “crown jewel” of running events. Others even describe the Boston event as “sacred” and discuss it in hushed tones, not unlike golf fans talking about The Masters, or the World Series to fervent baseball fans.


It was 3:18 on Monday when the Washington Post sent out an e-mail news alert. Ironically I read the subject line just as I was walking out the door to go running over at the track at McDaniel College.


The e-mail reported, “Authorities are investigating a report of two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. There were two booms heard inside the Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel…”


The Washington Post reported, “As runners in the Boston Marathon charged over the finish line Monday afternoon, two bomb blasts released orange balls of fire into the air, lifting runners off their feet, killing at least three people, injuring more than 130 others, and driving Boston and the nation once more into the grim work of responding to terror…


“The devastating impact of the explosions… An 8-year-old boy was killed and at least 10 other children were among the injured, according to law enforcement officials. Medical personnel said many people suffered from” injuries in their legs…


Our hearts and prayers go out to Boston and those injured in Monday’s senseless attacks, their families and loved ones. We pray that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are quickly brought to justice.


We pray for healing. We pray that this craziness stop.


. . . . .I’m just saying…


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