When the bombs went off in Boston on Patriots Day the Boston Marathon was well into its concluding hours. The winners had come across the finish line a long time ago, and now the “other” winners … those who completed the 26.2 mile course … were surging across the finish line, having seen the attainment of a goal.
Many who run the Boston Marathon are highly competitive racers who travel around the globe to participate in similar road races. But there are others who have personal goals and train hard to demonstrate to themselves and others that they can “do” it. Some are in wheelchairs, some are blind, some have experienced personal tragedies, others have embraced new lives after seemingly insurmountable failures. But they are finishing.
Many of those people were robbed of their goals yesterday by terrorists who set off the bombs that killed several people and injured a score of others. The victims were primarily spectators who gathered near the finish line to celebrate with those who saw a new future. The nation watched in horror as mangled bodies were scooped up and rushed to waiting ambulances to head for one or the other of the outstanding hospitals for which Boston is known. Several would never see the inside of the hospital, having died at the scene.
Not unlike the day on which terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York on 9/11/2001, it was a magnificent day for the marathon. It was sunny, but cool. There was a festive atmosphere in Boston. The Red Sox, in their Patriots Day mode, captured a hard-fought game just blocks away from the Marathon route. Bars and restaurants were full. Parking was not to be found nearby. People from all over the country and the world gathered to be a part of the celebration.
In a short matter of seconds that was all destroyed, and chaos took over. The beauty of the day was marred by loud explosions, the putrid smell of smoke in the air, and blood was spilled on the very sidewalks where cups of beer and mustard and ketchup may have been spilled just moments before. The officials stopped the runners in the Marathon just blocks from the finish line to assure their safety in the matter of a mystery as to how many more bombs there were and where they were located. The runners could see the banner at the finish line, but they were not to run under it.
There was a parallel marathon being run in Boston yesterday. It had to do with terrorism. It began years ago, and the nation has been running ever since. Yesterday was a bloody mile marker, and a reminder that there would be others. Just as the runners were stopped and the race declared unable to be finished yesterday, the parallel marathon was declared temporarily halted, but not over. There are many miles to go in this marathon which is characterized by blood, injury, death, fear and discouragement. There is no congratulatory medal or refreshing snack awaiting those who complete this section of the course. Instead there is grief.
We have no idea when or where the race will commence again. But we are certain that it will. Until the world is freed from the demented minds of terrorists we will continue to be witnesses to the tragedy such as we are witnessing in Boston. Something very, very good has been transformed into something very, very horrible. It seems unlikely that the finish line even exists. Instead, a discouraged country seeks to learn how to live with a marathon which has no finish line.
Photo Credit: WBZ-TV