The rain was coming down hard outside on Friday, April 12th as 900 prospective Boston University students and their families filled the Metcalf ballroom for lunch. A student panel of five current BU students took the stage and answered questions from the audience. One of the first questions was an intriguing one: “What is the best tradition at BU?” A student on the panel quickly answered: “No doubt it is the event that is happening this upcoming Monday, Marathon Monday.” The rest of the students on the panel smiled and nodded their heads in agreement. “It is by far the one day that all BU students look forward to.”
Fast forward to Monday, April 15th. No classes for Patriots Day and I wake up feeling like its some version of Christmas morning. There is not one BU student who is complaining about tests, worrying about homework, or grumbling about their lack of sleep.
It is a day unlike any other at BU. Everyone is wishing each other ‘Happy Marathon Monday’ and dishing out smiles and hugs like they are going out of style. The day unfolds and I find myself at Chestnut Hill, watching as runners make their way through the last stretch of the 26.2-mile race. Little did I know that the people I watched go by were running right into the thick of the most disastrous event Boston has ever seen.
I have been a part of this city since before I can remember. My grandmother and I rode the MBTA a countless number of times, as she taught me the ins and outs of the transportation system that would no doubt come in handy down the road. My father has brought me to numerous baseball games, where I fell in love with the Red Sox. My mother and I would visit the Public Gardens and ride the Swan Boats once or twice every summer for a little mother-son bonding.
All of these times I walked past the Boston Public Library and Copley Square and never once did I think the area would be the site of a bombing that would take the lives of three innocent people, severely injure more than a hundred more spectators, and taint one of the most sacred Boston traditions.
Campus had a different vibe on April 16th. The TV’s in the dining hall, usually filled with news on Dwight Howard or David Ortiz, were stained with bloody and gruesome images from the crime scene. Police officers sat at every corner along Commonwealth Avenue. A stillness fell over Kenmore square. Three or four helicopters floated above.
Victims were identified and I truly could not believe the stories. As much it angers me, I truly cannot even imagine how the victims or the runners or anyone who was at the scene feels. As a five-year old I had watched, with my mother and father, my aunt cross the finish line, in the same way that the young eight-year old boy was searching for his father in the pack of runners.
A day that was supposed to be joyous for thousands of people became one of the most chaotic the city has ever seen.
But the reasons why I love Boston and its people shone bright even in the face of monstrous pandemonium. First responders, innocent bystanders, and marathon runners all did everything they could to help victims. Everyone came together and showed that an act of violent cowardice such as this cannot and will not break this city.