Boston Changes Everything

April 16, 2013 · Print This Article · Email This Post

It was a beautiful, flawless day in Boston. It was Patriots’ Day, a wildly popular civic holiday celebrating the first battles of the American Revolution. School was out, spring was in the air, it was a holiday weekend, and the Boston Red Sox played at home in Fenway Park, as they’ve done every year for over 50 years. To add to the festivities, it was “Marathon Monday,” as locals call the day of the Boston Marathon. What more could one ask for on this heady spring day? Thousands of runners from around the world ran the 26.2 mile race. Begun in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon. With half a million spectators lining the route and concentrated most heavily at the finish line where the explosions occurred, the Boston Marathon is also New England’s most widely viewed sporting events. All eyes were on Boston today. What the world saw was not what it expected to see.

Boston Marathon, Blood-Stained American Flag

Just as runners reached the finish line on Boyleston St. at 2:50 p.m., the first of two bombs detonated. Everything changed. It was the largest terrorism attack in the United States since 9/11, which likewise began as an achingly beautiful, crisp Fall day. As the scope of today’s attack upon the Marathon unfolded, I kept thinking…“This changes everything.” The stakes have been raised tremendously. The ante was upped. No longer can we go shopping in a mall, walk down a crowded street, or attend crowded concerts or sporting events without wondering if we are really as safe and secure as we thought we were. That peace of mind has been ripped away.

The Boston Police Department says there’s no motive for the attack. Excuse me? The motive is clear, and simple. Terror, up close and personal. An apparently random attack, not one which is anticipated, has more impact because its suddenness strikes at the heart of everyday life, tearing threads of the social fabric apart. No grand target, like an imposing government fortress, was needed. Terrorism, up close and personal, at a level we could all relate to. The latest reports say three are dead — including eight-year-old Martin Richard from Dorchester who died after kissing his father, William Richard, who had just reached the finish line. Martin then returned to the sidelines, where so many injuries from the explosions occurred. Seventeen people are in critical condition and 144 people total were injured. Runners were felled, left without legs. One woman described a detached leg which passed overhead from the force of the blast. Aerial views of the carnage showed large areas of sidewalk smeared with blood. At least 10 other amputations have been performed in area hospitals.

Boston Marathon Explosion, Street Smeared with Blood

Everyone there was forever changed by the darkness of chaos and fear. All of us who watched the unfolding coverage were affected.

According to The Wall St. Journal, Brent Cunningham, 46, who traveled from Sitka, Alaska to run in the Boston Marathon, said: “We heard two explosions, and I thought, ‘that had a 9/11 feel to it.’ ” Yes, it did have a 9/11 feel.

So far, no one knows who planned and carried out this attack. In a way, it doesn’t matter. No, I don’t think it was North Korea’s Kim Jong Un…He’d want something even more spectacular and phallic, such as nuclear warheads. Maybe he’s just full of hot air, like his predecessors. What I personally think is…this terrorism does change everything, in a very fundamental 9/11 sort of way. Up until today, law enforcement was able to prevent mass murder at large gatherings of people such as the Super Bowl. Where was the monitored “chatter” this time? And why would a deranged person shoot up a school or a movie theater when this opportunity for bloodshed exists? Surely, I’m not the only person upon whom this has dawned. This changes everything because it’s now clear that terrorists CAN successfully strike anywhere, at any time. I expect more of these types of attacks.

Tysons Corner, VA in 1957

People in Washington, DC are terrified right now for this kind of reason…After 9/11, I remember asking my mother to never, ever go shopping again at Tysons Corner, a huge sort of Mall of America located in Northern Virginia which is well-known for its high-end merch and sometimes equally dizzying prices. On any given day, probably half of Congress and various celebrities shop there. And yet it’s about 30 miles from downtown DC. Tysons is the 12th largest employment center in the United States, with relatively easy (nothing about metro D.C.-land traffic is easy) access via I-495. It’s the largest shopping mall in Virginia and in the entire Baltimore-Washington area. Every weekday, Tysons — which has 46 million square feet of office and retail space — attracts about 55,000 shoppers. Weekends are even worse. To be blunt about it, there’s no speedy way to exit Tysons. What better place to inflict damage than a soft target with atrocious, often gridlocked traffic, populated with government officials and other well-heeled patrons? So no, I don’t think it was North Korea, but I do think the stakes just got raised considerably for soft targets. Like most people, I’m shocked by the apparent ease of this attack.

Tysons Corner, VA Aerial View

The attack also coincides with the April 15th Tax Day and, within a day or so, give or take, the anniversaries of the Waco siege and the Oklahoma City bombing. So, it could be a militant tax protest or some militant anti-government group that we never heard of. But it’s a game changer, because we now see that soft attacks are…possible and…do-able. Up close and personal. Life will return to normal. But it’ll be another “new normal,” never the same.

Read about our relatively stress-free rural adventures in picking blackberries.

Copyright © 2013

Photo credits:; Fairfax County Library, Photographic Archives


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