Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I Will Tell My Children about the 2013 Boston Marathon

At the ages of 1-1/2 and 3-1/2, my children don’t really understand what happened at the Boston Marathon two days ago. To them, the most unusual thing that happened that day was that Daddy came home from work early and Mommy had the radio on a lot. But I’m sure that a few years from now, they will hear someone mention it in conversation, or they’ll talk about it in school. And when they ask me what happened in Boston on April 15, 2013, this is what I will tell them.

On that day, someone – or several someones – tried to break the spirits of the people of Boston. On that day, there were a few people who tried to hurt some others. On that day, there were perhaps a handful of people who tried to strike terror into our hearts.

They failed.

Because for every nail, for every ball bearing, for every piece of shrapnel they planted in those bombs, there was an EMT, a firefighter, a cop who raced to the aid of those who were hurt. For every bystander who was hurt, there was another bystander who offered a stranger his cell phone, his coat, his shoulder, his apartment.

For every Boston family who waited in fear to hear whether a loved one was okay, there was a family in Boston, a family in Chicago, a family in London, a family in Afghanistan who was praying for the safety of all those loved ones.

The images that are burned in my brain most strongly are not the images of the smoke from the bombs and the blood on the streets, but of the bravery of those trained to respond to disasters and those who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time who reached out to help others.

The quote that came to my mind most often the day of the bombings is one that was quoted by many others that day, a quote from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' ”
And both on that day and in the days since, everywhere I look I see people helping. Volunteers asking where they can give blood. Employers offering counseling to their employees. Athletes setting aside long-held rivalries to offer support. People from all over the world standing in solidarity.

The legacy of this day will not be a sense of fear and intimidation, but a sense of brotherhood and solidarity. Whoever set those bombs intended to create chaos and disorder, but instead they created a sense of unity more powerful than they could have imagined. They intended to destroy peace, but instead they created an even stronger drive for peace. A drive for peace which will overcome their hate, and hate throughout the world.

That is what I will tell my children about this day.

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