Aaron Gouveia sees the city’s every day mettle—its spirit, its pride, its history, its people—as its enduring strength against such cowardice as yesterday
The heartbreak was not relegated to runners on the infamous hill at mile 26 yesterday.
For those of you who don’t pay attention to the news, two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon injured more than 120 people and killed three others — including an 8-year-old child, according to news reports. I grew up — and still live in — a town 30 miles south of Boston. I work 12 miles from Boston. And for two years I lived in parts of the city called Allston and Brighton. When you factor in all the sporting events witnessed there and the bars frequented in my youth, it’s safe to say it’s a city I know and love. And Patriots Day is Boston’s moment to shine.
Let me paint you a picture:
Most of the city has the day off to celebrate the first battle of the Revolutionary War, but what that really means is everyone in Boston is doing one of two things — watching the 11:05 a.m. Red Sox game or taking in the Boston Marathon. It’s more of an experience than a sports day. Everyone starts drinking at 9 a.m. — even earlier if the weather is good — and Bostonians celebrate what many consider to be the actual start of spring. Everyone is happy and the mood is celebratory. If you time it right and the Sox cooperate, you can potentially see the Red Sox win, walk outside the stadium and see the runners in Kenmore Square enter the final mile before finishing in Copley.
It’s really pretty spectacular, and it’s the kind of day and event that you can only experience here.
Someone, or some group of people, bombed spectators near the finish line. Everything is still under investigation at this point and I’m not going to add to the speculation. That’s not what this is about. This is about the fact that I knew multiple people who were there today. It’s about the fact that if I could’ve gotten tickets, I would’ve taken my son to the game and then to see the runners finish. It’s about attacking a group of innocent people doing nothing but cheering on family and friends, as well as runners who spent months if not years training for this one day to complete something truly magnificent in the realm of athletic achievements.
You bombed Boston today. You took at least three people — and one little kid — away today with your actions. I have to assume you’re pleased with that outcome, as no one detonates a bomb unless they want it to destroy those close to it. And yes, you scared a lot of people and wreaked genuine havoc. But wherever you are, I hope you take note of a few things.
I hope you noticed the number of people running for cover was dwarfed by the multitude of heroes who ran toward the blast. They weren’t even all law enforcement either. Some were just random bystanders and volunteers, but it didn’t matter because they ran into the hell you created and they’re the reason there are so few casualties. The smoke hadn’t even cleared before they were there to battle the evil you concocted.
I hope you noticed the runners who never stopped running, but instead took it upon themselves to detour to the nearest hospital to give blood.
I hope you noticed random stars like former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi jumping into the fray to save people. He learned it from his brothers — Sept. 11 first responders who rushed toward the Twin Towers when everyone else was running away. Even our famous athletes get their hands dirty here.
I hope you saw social media ablaze with support for Boston in the form of thoughts, prayers, and memes in seemingly instantaneous fashion.
And I hope you look at all of this and realize that while you hurt us, you won’t win. You can’t win. Because most people are inherently good, and in Boston we take care of our own. That includes the injured runners and spectators who aren’t from here, because when you’re a guest in our town you’re one of us. The goal of terrorism is to instill fear and tear people apart, but you must not be from here because you have no idea what lengths we’ll go to to take care of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones.
I will admit I listened to the police scanner after the blast and the chaos and desperation in the voices of the responders was heart-breaking. Everyone driving a box truck was a potential terrorist and everyone with a backpack a suspect. Then all the calls from runners and spectators poured in talking about every suspicious person they saw near the finish line. I did fear the fallout because it’s only natural for the city to be thirsty for vengeance, and I worried some of it will be taken out in the wrong way on the wrong people.
Events like this rob us of people which is the worst, but also of our innocence and a little of our humanity as well. And it kills me.
So I beg Bostonians to be better than the person or people who declared war on us. Let’s avoid talk of lynch mobs and vigilante justice. Let’s not joke about roving gangs of pissed off Southie thugs tracking the perpetrators down before the police so they can tear him/her from limb to limb. Instead, let’s remember who we are.
We’re Boston. We’re hardy New Englanders who seem as cold as our weather to the outside world, but secretly we’re marshmallows when it comes to the people we love. We’re hard-working, honest and devoted to family. We make friends for life. We’re educated and home to some of the world’s leading colleges and universities. That’s why we’re better than the people who did this. We’re stronger than the people who did this. And we’ll battle the people who did this by getting through this together.
You’ve given us your worst but I’m confident you’re about to see the very best of Boston.
—first appeared at Daddy Files