The winners in life are not the ones who necessarily cross the finish line at the race. The winners are the ones who never give up.
Of all the questions the President asked on Friday night, four days after the bombing at the marathon in Boston, “Why did these young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence,” this is the one which causes so much pain to ponder.
The logistical facts of how they planned to carry out the attack and whether they received any help will be cold hard facts; legally there will be a presentation of evidence, a burden of proof, and eventually a judgment. But the answer to the question “why?” will forever be less easily understood especially as we begin to hear what will be all the differing points of view and opinions in coming days and weeks.
As the President and the U.S. Attorney in Boston remind us, we are a country with a process, there will be formal charges. We will not rush to judgment. The Prosecution will have the burden to prove what we believe we all have seen with our own eyes; a young man following in the footsteps of his bigger, older brother in the jerky, mute images of closed circuit TV caught “red-handed” in the commission of a crime.
The report of images showing one or both of them setting down a heavy backpack only moments before the explosions, the crowd sourced identification of these young men being present on Boylston Street, at the the time of the explosions, the images appearing to show them walking away calmly, we have pieced all of this together and concluded in our minds they are guilty.
We have seen the picture of the tattered backpack and the events that followed; the killing of the MIT police officer, the car chase through the streets of Cambridge, the reports of grenades and hundreds of rounds of gunfire going off, the capture in a boat in a backyard in Watertown on lockdown. We watched these two young men in cool, cliche baseball caps walk calmly through the crowd on a beautiful spring day toward the finish line. How very strange all of this is, to have such a tragedy take place where shouts of joy, not pain and sorrow are meant to be heard.
Life, Boston, New England, its people and the place, are all at once, strange, twisted, unfair, sometimes cold beyond belief, disappointing, frightening, inspiring, welcoming, simple and good. Boston, is a city that where our nation was inspired, a city and a state rooted in caring for the common good, the commonwealth, the public at large, the declaration of the ideal that all men are created and a commitment to defeat tyranny.
On Monday we saw that spirit in the people coming to the rescue of the victims of the bombing, people running into harms way to help another and while the finish line of the marathon remained a scene of violence and destruction as of Friday, yet again, the people of greater Boston turned out to line the streets to cheer for men and women who had been a race for justice. After four days of deliberate and tireless effort on the part of the police and the public we know that whatever we may learn in the years to come about why young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resorted to such violence, the winners in life are not the ones who necessarily cross the finish line at the race. The winners are the ones who never give up.