2018 marks the five-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing that injured hundreds and resulted in the death of three spectators. Boston came together that day in 2013 and in the months that followed to restore the community and heal its wounds. The Boston Marathon, held on Patriots Day each year, continues to be a day where thousands of Bostonians support and cheer on runners, many of whom have trained for months or years in order to qualify for the big day.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh took part in a wreath-laying ceremony Sunday morning to honor the victims of the explosions that took place five years ago. Baker later spoke to a crowd that included the family of one of the victims and several survivors of the bombings, and reflected on the years of healing since the explosions. Video clips commemorated the accomplishments of survivors and the lives of those lost that day, including that of Lingzi Lu, an international Boston University graduate student who was studying for a degree in mathematics and statistics when she died.
It’s important that in remembering the bombing, we’re continuing to put the spotlight on victims and honoring their lives and legacies. In an age where the media likes to construct a narrative based on the suspects and their alleged motives, we’re fortunate that the aftermath of this bombing has always placed victims and survivors at the center of the conversation. News outlets gave families of the victims time to recover from the loss of their loved ones and displayed sensitivity when interviewing them, especially in the immediate aftermath.
And while it’s important to commemorate the lives of those lost, we also have to take into account the number of times survivors have had to recount their stories from that day and relive those experiences. Resilience is key in moving forward. It is the most productive way we should handle the stories of survivors. For example, Jessica and Patrick Downes, a couple who lost their legs during the explosion, recently wrote and have been promoting a children’s book about the service dog that helps them. The bestseller doesn’t mention the marathon once, and instead focuses on their lives after the explosion. Heartwarming stories like these can help us stand more united as a community and ultimately provide us with better ways to cope with what happened on April 15, 2013. We have to look toward the future in order to honor the past.
Still, five years since the explosions is not a lot of time. In the grand scale of terrorist attacks in this country, half a decade isn’t much time at all. Along the marathon route today, there are heightened security measures, including bag inspections and police walking around with dogs to ensure the safety of those watching. These measures will certainly continue for a while, as no one will ever forget the sight of the bombs exploding near the finish line on Boylston Street.
And we still do need to remember the explosions. For many current college students, the attack is something we remember watching on TV, no matter where we were. It wasn’t that long ago, and we must honor it by paying respect to the lives lost. For Bostonians, some of the wounds still feel fresh.
In the context of the daily instances of violence going on today, this is certainly not the last time the world will remember victims lost to tragedy. We remind ourselves of those killed during the shooting in Parkland, Florida so we can graduate from a sense of fear to a sense of community. And this is why it’s so important to show up and support the runners in the marathon: so that we remind ourselves that fear doesn’t win. Love and support win, and we’ll be there for one another on a day that brings the Boston community together, not apart.
As we think about the terrorist attacks that plague the world today, creating a network for survivors of different tragic events could be helpful in forming a united front. Two of the marathon bombing survivors created the One World Strong Foundation, which does exactly this, providing support for victims of trauma. Alone, these attacks are a tragedy, but when we look at them from a broader perspective, they speak to the larger threat of domestic and international terror, which is made visible by these organizations. Solving this mammoth of an issue can only come after we make a stand united against it.