On Monday, April 21st, the Boston Athletic Association will manage the 118th running of the oldest annual marathon in the world, the Boston Marathon.
In this week leading up to the race, the city of Boston has been remembering the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombing, the murder of MIT Officer Sean Collier, the shoot-out in Watertown and the subsequent lock-down and manhunt for one of the bombing suspects. Stories from injured survivors, relatives of those killed, first responders, runners and eye witnesses to the events have been told in numerous media outlets during the past week. For me, these stories and activities have stirred up many of the emotions I felt while it was all unfolding one year ago, so I have decided to republish the blog post I wrote at that time.
You might ask, what does this have to do with the overall subject of this blog, being trans? There are trans folks who run. Come tomorrow morning, when Boston runs again, at least one trans man, a friend of mine, will be running in the Boston Marathon. He couldn’t run last year because of an injury, but he was at the finish line as a spectator when the bombs went off. He wrote earlier this week, “It’s hard to believe it has been a full year. I still startle at loud noises and look twice when someone puts a back pack down. This may be what is my ‘normal’ now. But I did walk down Boylston St on Sunday and didn’t cry so I guess that’s a start.”
Run strong, my friend, and all you runners. Boston Strong.
I was wrapping up a meeting with an employee in my office when my cell phone buzzed. It was Monday, April 15 at 3:21 pm.
Picking up the phone, I saw a text from an Irish friend who lives outside of Dublin. “What the hell!” it said, “What is going on over there?”
With a knot in my stomach, I had a brief flashback to the morning of 9-11 when one of the administrative assistants stood in the center of our offices at work and said, “A plane just flew into the Twin Towers.”
I turned to my computer screen and saw an email from a co-worker who was going to show a few of us his new car at the end of the work day. “Guys lets cancel, explosions on
Boylston St!! People hurt.” Looking back, my interest in his new car seems so trivial now.
When I couldn’t connect to the Boston Globe web site, I knew it was from heavy on-line traffic. I sent a text back to my friend in Ireland. “Just heard about it myself.” I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it was bad.
Then, the Globe web site appeared with the images, the videos, Twitter feeds, confusion with the fire at the JFK Library, and gruesome photos of the carnage and the horror at the Boston Marathon. I repeatedly watched the now famous video taken at the finish line by a Globe reporter Steve Silva of both bombs exploding and the subsequent heroic responses by civilians, police, EMTs, firefighters and medical personnel.
I think it would be an understatement to say that was the beginning of five tough, tense, sorrowful, grueling days in Boston.
I’m not going to go through all the details here – those can be found easily enough in the media. I do, however, have a few things to say.
First, my deepest condolences and sympathies go to the families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu, the three people who were killed by the explosions at the marathon on Monday, and Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was assassinated by the bombing suspects Thursday night.
I send my prayers and support to the more than 180 people who were injured by the blasts at the marathon, especially those who are still in serious condition in Boston hospitals, and to Richard Donohue, Jr., the MBTA Transit Police officer who was shot during the gunfight with the marathon bombing suspects on Thursday night and is also still in the hospital.
To the talking heads I’m watching right now on Sunday morning TV who are retrospectively second guessing the justification for Friday’s lockdown during the biggest manhunt in Massachusetts’ and the nation’s history and how it “gave the terrorists an economic victory”, I say, “Shut the hell up!” Personally, I stand behind my governor, Deval Patrick, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino on this one.
To the local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Boston Police, the Massachusetts State Police, the MBTA Transit Police, the MIT and Waterown Police, the FBI, the ATF and others, and to the first responders, EMTs and all the medical personnel, and even to the citizens of Boston and elsewhere who helped in so many ways during this ordeal, I repeat Mayor Menino’s words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Lastly, about being a resident of the Boston area. Although I moved here 15 years ago, I have always felt like a bit of an outsider. Boston roots run deep. Family and neighborhood ties go back generations, and I have been reminded over the years about how I was not born and raised here. But those feelings of not being truly “from” here changed this week. I walk these streets where the events took place, I check in with friends who were in the race, at the finish line and living in Watertown, I listen to friends and acquaintances who know the injured and the dead, the first responders and the police. I feel just as much from Boston as Marky Mark, and I am in awe of the compassion, resolve and courage of the people of this town.
Boston, you’re my home, and I am so proud of you.