The Tragedy of 2013 Boston Marathon Reminds Us We Must Make Time to Celebrate Life

By Anne Holmes
NABBW’s Baby Boomer Expert

anne holmesThe Boston Marathon has long been an event that celebrates human triumph.

 It ranks as the world\’s second oldest annual marathon, and is easily one of the world\’s best-known road racing events. With a total purse of one million dollars, it is also one of six World Marathon Majors and annually attracts over 500,000 spectators.

 With this being the 116th year for the race, “Boston Marathon or Bust,” has become the mantra of runners all over the world.

Amazingly, the first Boston Marathon was held in April 1897. Which makes it the second oldest continuously running footrace in North America. (The oldest foot race, since I am sure you are wondering, is the Buffalo Turkey Trot held every Thanksgiving Day in Buffalo, New York. And it’s really only 5 months older…)

As usual, this year’s race day was held the third Monday in April – Patriot’s Day. Not so typically, this year’s race day also fell ingloriously on Tax Day — April 15. Regardless of that, the day began with all the anticipation and excitement of a typical Patriot\’s Day in Boston. But as we all now know, it ended very differently.

Which means that today, April 16, 2013, and forever going forward, we will now have an entirely new meaning for the fabled concept of “heartbreak at the Boston Marathon.”

Today, as President Barack Obama went on national TV for a second day in a row, to declare that we don’t yet know who was behind these bombings which he now labels an “act of terror,” we reflected on the heroism and bravery we normally associate with the runners’ efforts to overcome their physical challenges in order to complete the race.

With the fact that this year’s race will forever be remembered for ending with the three dead and 170 wounded, we realized that the same heroism and bravery we’ve always associated with the runners was also embodied by the volunteers, first responders, medical professionals, and even the bystanders, all who came to the immediate aid of people injured or killed.

  • Who can forget the runners who ran right past the finish line and on to the closest hospital where they offered to donate blood?
  • Who isn’t humbled when learning of the runners who stopped their own race —something they’d trained months for —  in order to assist others?
  • Who will ever forget that at a race where the families involved in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut were to be honored, one of the tragic casualties was a boy just 8 years old?
  • Of course, this same heroism was embodied in the tens of thousands of people who offered food, showers, rooms, and assistance to stranded runners and visitors.
  • And it was returned in the expressions of kindness, compassion, and consideration expressed to all of Boston from people around the world.

As I reflect on this, I realize that most of us probably live in or near a community which has some sort of annual event which draws huge crowds — even if it’s just a county fair or a community fun run. Most communities, even smaller ones like Galena, Illinois, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan or Boulder, Colorado, host some sort of annual event that brings people together.

And then of course, there are the other “monster sized events” around the country that we all enjoy watching, attending or hearing about. A quick handful of those that come to mind are below:

·         And of course, major cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, New York City and Los Angeles have more big events than I can ever count…

As we non-Bostonians watched the events unfold yesterday, I’m sure we found ourselves internalizing the scenes we saw.  Imagining “what if something like this were to happen here…”

This thought no doubt quickly followed by the realization that security at all future events of any magnitude is going to become even more intense. Especially when we consider that we still have no (official) idea who was behind the terrorist act.

Finally, as we watched friends and strangers come together to mourn, to ask why, and to help each other recover from the tragic events we’d all now seen on TV, we realized that at the very same time that we being assaulted by two contrary emotions. We were horrified. And we were proud. Specifically:

  • Horrified that there was someone among us who had caused this most terrible thing to happen.
  • Proud to see how these people — many of them strangers to each other before the race began — were coming together and showing compassion, kindness, and courage.
  • All three being characteristics Americans used to be able to count on and take pride in, but which have come under siege in recent months, as factional politics has caused such terrible divisiveness within our borders.

If you were at the Boston Marathon, or knew anyone who was, I offer my condolences to you. I hope those close to you are healthy and safe.

And for all of us, I can only hope that this horrible event will once again bring us together as a country. And bring an end to the petty bickering to which we all seem to have become so addicted of late.

Peace, prosperity and love, my friends! As Baby Boomer women, we’ve all come to know that life is all too short, and we must time to celebrate it while we can.