Boston Strong


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Boston Strong.

I love the idea of it.

I grew up in a Boston suburb.  I went to my first marathon in 1975, when I was a student at Boston College.  I stood on “Heartbreak Hill” and handed out oranges to the runners who passed me.

I think of myself as a Bostonian.  Growing up, before I studied to become a speech/language pathologist, my speech was filled with “popcohn” and “pahk” and “wicked pissah”.

I’ve cheered for the Red Sox since 1967.  I learned about the “Pats” when they were still located in the hub.

Patriots Day is my holiday: I have watched the parade in Lexington a dozen times. I’ve been to North Bridge in Concord for the reenactment.  I have walked the “Freedom Trail”, visited Paul Revere’s house, and participated in the town meeting at Olde South Meeting House.

I went to college at UMass Boston.

So you get it, right?  Boston is MY city.

When the bombs went off at the Marathon on April 15, 2013, I had just come home from a morning spent in Concord and Acton.  My husband and my friends and I had celebrated the beautiful cool spring morning by applauding the courage of those militiamen of long ago.  We had cheered and clapped as the mock militia met the mock Redcoats on North Bridge.  We’d marched with a group of kids and bands and Girl Scout Troops, walking from Concord to Acton.  We’d had breakfast at the famous Concord Inn, and had enjoyed the warmth and the fun and the mood of celebration.

What we hadn’t known then was that while we were enjoying the lovely morning, two homemade bombs had gone off at the Marathon. People had died.  People had been maimed and shocked and hurt in ways that would mark them forever.

When I heard the news, about an hour after we’d gotten home from our morning trip to Concord, and about two hours after the blasts, I was shocked and scared.  My friends were there! They were RIGHT. THERE.   Some had run the race, some had been there to cheer on family, some had been officials at the finish line.

I spent a frantic hour tracking everyone down, reassuring myself that they were all OK.  That none of my friends of family had been hurt.

But the thing is, my friends and family were within feet of dying, of losing legs, or having their lives forever changed.

This time, for me, the terrorism was personal.

And it became more personal when the terrorists chose to flee the city and ended up facing police in the town where my oldest child was living.  The day and night of the Boston Lockdown were the longest and most stressful of my life.

Those terrible, deadly, homicidal young men were in my child’s neighborhood.  I couldn’t get to her, and I couldn’t get her out of there.

I watched, unable to look away, during the whole day of police searches, false alarms and basement searches.  I watched in terror and horror as that young boy- younger than my own youngest son- huddled in that covered boat.  I watched him being shot, and I watched him being arrested.

I sobbed with relief when it was over.

I am a Bostonian.  This is my city.  These were my people in pain.

And so I find myself oddly conflicted now, as that young terrorist is convicted of his crimes and faces his awful future.

Do I want him to be killed?

No.

I don’t.

And here is exactly why.

He was just a boy.  A terrible, delusional, angry, boy.  But a boy.

Killing him will make us as awful as he is.  I truly believe this.  Killing someone for killing someone makes as much sense as biting a dog because it bit you.  I don’t believe that any lesson would be learned.

But mostly, I do not want my government to kill this man because I do not want us to become the very thing that deluded young men like him tell themselves that we are.

I do not want this man’s death to be the proof that other angry young men need to attack my country, my city, my friends.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

If I were unlucky enough to be on the jury that is deciding his fate, I would keep that quote in mind.

I am Boston Strong.

Strong enough to endure and to flourish without the death of another young person.  Strong enough to hope that life and hope can achieve more than any lethal injection ever could.

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