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Boston: The Marathon and Memorial Day

May 27, 2013

American Red Sox HatFor the first 22 years of my life, I lived in Ohio. Growing up in Toledo and attending Miami University in Oxford (yes, there is a school in Ohio called Miami and it’s older than the state of Florida, look it up), I envisioned a life where I never left Ohio. The recession in 2008 and its effects on the job market in the midwest made me re-think this plan as a whole. After graduating and living at home for a few months, the cities of my job search rapidly expanded from the 4 C’s (Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati) to any city I had any interest in living and thought I could get a job. Fortunately, the hunt did not last long and I landed in Boston in February of 2009.

Since moving to Boston, I have lived in several different neighborhoods ranging from historic (the North End) to quintessential Boston (Charlestown) and college (Allston and Brighton) and moved to several different jobs since insurance brought me to Boston. While I’ve come to learn and love the city of Boston, for a long time I still thought of Ohio as “home.” These feelings changed drastically on April 15 of this year, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Marathon Monday is a special day in the city of Boston, and my first one was less than 2 months after I moved to Boston. Through some luck and roommates at the time, I attended the Red Sox game on Marathon Monday in 2009 (the Sox play before noon on Marathon Monday every year as part of the festivities for the holiday) and then spent time downtown watching the runners finish. It was my first truly memorable day in Boston and was one of my first Red Sox games (of which I have now been to over 30).

2013 was the first year I celebrated Marathon Monday without being downtown to watch the runners as they finished. Seeing the explosions and aftermath unfold on TV in areas I was so familiar with and with so many close friends downtown was overwhelming. It was relieving and simultaneously scary to receive texts and emails from close friends letting me know they were safe. Great to know that my friends were safe, but how were the people I hadn’t heard from? Eventually I learned that all my friends were safe, though there were some close calls including one friend who was on the T less than 2 blocks from the bombing.

Knowing that these events were happening only a few miles away from my apartment made the events seem more real than other tragedies I lived through. While I remember where I was and watching the tragedies of 9/11, the Atlanta Olympics bombing and the Oklahoma City bombing (among others), having the events unfold in the city you live in makes all of the emotions associated with these events heightened.

As I watched the coverage on the news throughout the rest of the day, while the events themselves were very depressing and tragic, it was also very uplifting to see the stories of police officers, paramedics, off duty military personnel and the general public running to the aid of others. Additionally, the amazing Boston, Cambridge and Watertown police forces worked endless hours throughout the week to catch the perpetrators. Stories of everyday citizens helping in the aftermath, like getting people clear from the wreckage of the explosions or runners from the marathon running straight to hospitals to donate blood seemingly had no end. In the following days, the One Fund was formed to give back to those affected by the explosions and groups formed additional fundraisers through promoted events like the #BackToBackBay campaign. Whatever chance people had to help, the people of Boston were going to do it and they were going to send a message doing it.

To me, this was where the city of Boston started to shine through this tragedy, showing the world that the people from here are not afraid of anything. Bostonians may have inter-city rivals (townies vs. yuppies, pink hats vs. diehards, everyone vs. college students), the city rallied together in response to these actions. This may sound cheesy to some, but it was really cool to be at a Red Sox game weeks after the events and see every person in Fenway give a standing ovation to one of the first responders, or to be in a bar where a random “USA!” chant went on for 5 minutes. It made it seem like this united feeling was here to stay in the city. While life has slowly returned to some level of normalcy, I still notice people being more appreciative of police officers helping direct traffic or people that check bags walking into sporting events or concerts.

In addition to all of our Veterans, the first responders should be held up in our memories on this Memorial Day, especially in Boston. Veterans have made this country a big part of what America great, don’t get me wrong, but the first responders in Boston were serving in what felt like a war zone throughout the week of April 15th. These police officers, paramedics, off duty or retired military personnel and common citizens rose to great heights to ensure that no further damage was inflicted on the city as a whole and were successful. They worked together, sacrificing life and limb in some cases, to catch the animals behind these actions.

One picture from the memorial for the Marathon victims

One picture from the memorial for the Marathon victims

Throughout this whole experience, I realized that Boston is now my home. From visiting Back Bay for the first time after the bombings, to seeing the memorial every time I go downtown, to receiving texts, calls and emails from family and friends the week of the Marathon; the city is now a part of me and I am proud to be part of a city that responded so bravely in the face of danger.

I realize this is a very small, inconsequential piece of the marathon story, but wanted to share it. Thanks for reading, please donate to the One Fund and the fund for the tornado victims in Oklahoma if you haven’t already.

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