Boston has a tradition of great city columnists. Here's a sampling of what some of them are writing in today's editions of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.
This is how bad this is. I went out Monday night and bumped into some firefighters I know. They said one of the dead was an 8-year-old boy from Dorchester who had gone out to hug his dad after he crossed the finish line. The dad walked on; the boy went back to the sidewalk to join his mom and his little sister. And then the bomb went off. The boy was killed. His sister’s leg was blown off. His mother was badly injured. That’s just one family, one story.
On the radio yesterday morning, I gave my advice to anyone attending the Boston Marathon: Go to the finish line late in the day, I said. Show up long after the world-class runners have crossed the line, picked up their prize money, headed to the airport and flown off to the next big race on the schedule. Then you’ll see the real champions, the true heart and soul of the Boston Marathon.
By the time the real winners cross, the finish-line tape has been ripped down and the street covered with litter. Oh, but what a scene. You wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and you’ll see the grandmother staggering across the finish line as her shrieking grandkids surround her. You’ll see wounded veterans, you’ll see friends or couples finishing arm in arm, you’ll see people literally crawl across the line and collapse on that one glorious painted patch of Boylston Street.
You go to the finish line late on Patriots Day afternoon, and you’ll see the human spirit in all its glory — sweaty, bloody, delirious and genuinely triumphant. You want to see the best of the Boston Marathon? Take my advice and show up late.
In a way, we saw it again this year, but this time it was not limited to the runners. It was in the first responders running toward the carnage, literally stepping into the smoke to help anyone who needed help. It was in the volunteers who normally are here to maintain order but were suddenly thrust into this frightening chaos.
Yesterday started as another perfect, sunny, lovely family day.
A school vacation day.
A day when many of us, for years, have taken our children to Newton’s Commonwealth Avenue, to Brookline’s Beacon Street, to Kenmore Square or the finish line on Boylston Street to cheer on the thousands of runners who have thrilled us with their finish of this historic race.
That sweetness is all over now.
The whole world is watching Boston on Patriots Day. We are truly global, the Hub of the running universe.
So this was a good place to make a statement, and now our quaint little event will never be the same.
We won’t be able to walk into Trinity Church or the Boston Public Library without thinking about the day the bombs went off. We won’t be able to step into the Lenox Hotel — where Red Auerbach lived when he coached the Celtics — without thinking about spectators being maimed. We will forever remember the day nobody could call anybody on a cellphone in Copley Square.
Yes, we have to learn from this. And we will. We’ll need to examine the security plan for the marathon and ask whether this could have been prevented. And we’ll have to apply the lessons we learn to other public events.
But life here will go on. We won’t be paralyzed by fear.
We’ll take reasonable precautions, yes.
But we won’t take cover.
And we won’t cower.
This, after all, is Boston.