When I received the text from my sister in law I was just returning from errands so as I put down my bags I popped the tv on to see if I could find out more about what she was telling me. There was an explosion at the finish line she had said. It was off to her right and she took a quick picture. Then another one, this time to her left and like many other people that was the moment when she realized that this was not an accident. She wasn’t sure which way to run at first so she hid in a doorway. She was frightened, she said. When she mustered up the nerve, she ran home and stayed there.
At first all we could see on television were overhead video shots of the area from helicopters. We could see there was something happening but the claims of body parts littering the sidewalk of Boylston Street were dismissed as hyperbole.
It is what happened next that really defined the occasion. People with ears ringing and clothes shredded got elbow deep in the carnage to assist complete strangers. Runners, half dead from having just run 26 miles pulled down barricades to get to the victims. Average citizens who moments before were cheering and clapping were ripping their clothes to make tourniquets. No one needed to be told what to do. And no one waited to be rescued. Bystanders either got out of the way or helped the wounded no one mingled around wailing, taking pictures, or gawking. Most people in the immediate area were running toward the blast, not away. There was no victim mentality-not even amongst the victims. The attitude has changed.
Only two days later the next major sporting event happened in Boston when the Bruins were scheduled to continue their playoff run in an important hockey game. I assumed it would be cancelled, and if I had ticket I have to admit that I don’t think I would have gone. We still didn’t know who planted those bombs or why. In fact it was all far from over, there was more killing to come. But the Garden was filled to capacity, and then some. Many more people watched on tv, even people like me, who have a limited interest in hockey. Obviously this game, like all the other pro sports played all accross the country that week, wasn’t about just the game. And when the quirky and beloved Rene Rancort took to the ice to sing the anthem, as he has for decades, this is how it went:
The anthem heard ’round the world
I don’t see anyone looking terrorized, do you?