Monday, April 14, 2014

‘Boston Strong,’ the Rallying Cry That United a City

In defiance and solidarity against anyone who might think they can create fear and break the spirit this city possesses, on Monday, April 21, an estimated 36,000 runners will again make the historic 26.2 mile run from Hopkinton to Boston.

Boston Strong” is an important part of the story leading to this year’s running of the Boston Marathon. “Boston Strong” encapsulated a need for the community to unite in face of daunting challenges and an uncertain future.

It began on Patriots Day, Monday, April 15, 2013, when three spectators were killed and 260 injured by two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon’s Copley Square finish line. It was a very violent and traumatic day for the city of Boston. But the days that followed proved to be just as intense and distressing.

Within a few days, police identified Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the suspects in the bombings.

On Thursday evening, MIT police officer Sean Collier, in responding to a reported disturbance, was shot multiple times and killed. Police linked his murder to the Tsarnaev brothers.

Early Friday morning, the Tsarnaev’s hijacked a car in Cambridge, taking the driver hostage. The hostage escaped. Led by information provided by the hostage, police pursued the brothers into Watertown. They confronted the Tsarnaev brothers, and in the ensuing gunfight MBTA Police Officer Richard Donahue was shot and critically wounded. Killed in the shootout, Tamerlan was no longer a threat, but his brother Dzhokhar who escaped capture was.

Motivated by the threat Dzhokhar still posed, Governor Deval Patrick ordered a Greater Boston lockdown and its residence to shelter-in-place. In Watertown, police officers made a house-to-house manhunt. On the evening of Friday, April 19, they captured a bloodied and wounded Dzhokhar and transported him to Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Now held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is scheduled to go to trial in November.

The bombs killed eight-year-old Martin Richard; Krystle Campbell, 29; and Lu Lingzi, 23.

Of the 260, 16 had their legs amputated; two of the victims had both legs amputated. All of them have been fitted with prostheses. Many have returned to school or work.

Professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her leg in the bombings, last month performed at the 2014 TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia for the first time on her prosthetic leg specially designed for her by Hugh Herr, director of the Biomechatronics group at The MIT Media Lab.

Jane Richard, Martin Richard’s sister, lost her left leg. Their mother, Denise Richard, suffered a head injury and lost her vision in one eye. Bill Richard, their dad, lost part of his hearing and suffered burns and shrapnel wounds to his legs. The Richards have organized a group of 100 who will be running in this year’s Marathon in support of their charity, The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation.

The other amputees have been fitted with prostheses and are learning to run anew.

Police Officer Richard Donahue is still recovering from his wounds.

“Boston Strong” has a much deeper meaning than a simple slogan or catchphrase. It sums up all of what happened during and after the tragic events of the week of April 15, and the refusal of Massachusetts and Boston to let anyone interfere with their hopes and dreams.

First responders and ordinary citizens who without hesitation ran into the chaos and the unknown that was behind the cloud of smoke and debris, not knowing whether there were other bombs or not, exemplify the meaning of “Boston Strong.” It’s exemplified by the Richard’s foundation, the Boston One Fund, and other charitable events organized to support those afflicted by the tragedy. It’s exemplified by the resilience of Boston and its support of law enforcement’s determination to bring justice to those who would commit such acts.

“Boston Strong was in full display when Haslet-Davis walked off of the “Meet the Press” set because they, at her request, promised not to name the accused bombers, a promise they did not keep.

“Boston Strong” represents the defiance against those who might think they can create fear and break the spirit this city possesses. It’s the motto written across the invisible banner that will be hanging over this year’s Boston Marathon finish line, where an estimated 36,000 runners on Monday, April 21, will again make that historic 26.2-mile attempt from Hopkinton to Boston to cross the finish line.

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green