Today is Marathon Monday. Athletes, as they have for more than a century in Boston, will take their places at the starting line. But a year after bombs ripped through the streets, the anticipated 36,000 participants will include amputees who lost their limbs a year ago and thousands more spectators determined to not be ruled by fear. The Boston Marathon bombings brought Boston, with its brash, New England swagger, to its knees. But today, the city and its residents symbolize the resilience of the American people. They are bruised and battered but far from broken.
April 15, 2013, seemed a perfect day for running. Temperatures were in the 50s and the sun shined brightly as runners made their way down Boylston Street toward the finish line. Scores of spectators cheered as the racers wrapped up their runs, which started in the suburbs and ended in Boston. Just before 3 p.m., the world shifted. A bomb went off inside a backpack, shaking the ground, breaking windows, shattering eardrums and sending shrapnel into the flesh of runners and spectators. Bodies lay strewn. Limbs littered the street. And within seconds, it happened again when a second bomb detonated about 100 yards away.
More than 260 people suffered physical injuries. Three people died, including an 8-year-old boy. And countless others suffered from emotional injuries. The country watched in horror as a multiday manhunt for the bombers ensued. The two brothers suspected in the attack tried to elude capture, allegedly gunning down a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer. Boston was paralyzed as officials put the region on lockdown. The horror ended four days later with one of the brothers shot dead by police and the other captured and now awaiting trial.
Boston has taught the country valuable lessons, most notably about tenacity and the resiliency of spirit but also about enhancing security for large public events. In Tampa, for example, the police chief consulted with Massachusetts State Police when planning this year's Gasparilla events. That wisdom will be on display today in Boston, where security will be tighter. Emotions will run high. And the country will hold its breath until the last street barricade has come down without incident. As it has since 1897, the race will go on.