A city has a pulse, a soul. It can be heard in the symphony of sounds that play out on its streets; it can be felt in its old buildings and in its rich culture; and it can be seen in the unique character of its people. This pulse continues in good times and in bad. It beats through happiness and strife. It endures, and in a nation as strong and proud as the United States, the pulse from some cities is so loud and distinct that their identities are often known and treasured around the world.
Cities, like New York and San Francisco, like New Orleans and Atlanta, like Nashville and Seattle and many, many more, exist as both independent entities and brilliant accompaniments to their nation. They shine with rare qualities that make them stand out from the crowd, that make them representatives of our great nation.
Boston is one of those cities. It’s always stood out, and following the events of April 15, 2013, it will stand out now more than ever.
On the third Monday of every April, Massachusetts and Maine observe Patriots’ Day, a civic holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Concord and Lexington, the first two battles of the American Revolutionary War. Schools and businesses are closed. Festivities ensue.
Boston celebrates this day of patriotism and pride with the running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. This year’s marathon, however, was clouded by the actions of two terrorists. Just before 3:00pm, hours after the race had begun, twin explosions rocked the finish line of the marathon, sending spectators and runners alike into a state chaos and panic.
Extraordinarily, even before what had happened was completely clear, some people were charging towards the scenes of the explosions. Video of the event reveals some of the heroes of that day, selflessly running towards danger to save anyone they could.
That was the first indication of how Boston would react to the horror and terror of the attack. Instead of folding under, instead of running away in fear, the city and its people would hold their heads high in the days following the bombings. They would prove to exemplify their rallying cry of “Boston Strong.”
While the details of the attack were still being revealed and the suspects were still at large, the city reacted in the only way it knew how: with strength and pride. Unsure of what the days after the attack would bring, Bostonians pulled together as if to say, “You picked the wrong city to mess with.” During the Bruins game on the Wednesday night following the marathon, their mettle was further proven as the entire crowd joined in with the national anthem, all but drowning out the singer there to perform.
Mirroring the moment at the Bruins game, a chorus of voices calling for love and justice has risen to all but drown out the evil deeds of two men, who were identified and subdued in record time, a truly amazing feat performed by both federal and Massachusetts law enforcement. These voices represent a city and a nation that values freedom and justice.
Yes, Boston has a pulse, and today, that pulse is beating stronger than ever, and while it mourns the loss of three bright young lives, it proves that evil actions will not define it, that dark clouds won’t hang over its buildings and trees and streets paved with heart, strength, and bravery. It has been and will forever be Boston Strong.