The Boston Marathon In History
The Boston Marathon, which dates back to 1897, holds a special place in the city’s history. It is the oldest annual marathon in the world and is considered America’s most prestigious marathon. The Marathon takes place annually on the third Monday in April, to coincide with Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. This year, more than 20,000 runners and 500,000 spectators came from all over the world to participate in the event. Ironically, on the final mile of the course, there was a memorial of 26 stars representing the victims of the Newtown Massacre.
In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever in Boston. His time was 2:03:02. His win was not recognized as an official world record, however, because the course allows a tail wind. That same year, Margaret Okayo, also from Kenya, set the women’s record in 2002 with a course record of 2:20:43. America’s finest hour in the Boston Marathon came in 1983 when three Americans broke 2:10, and 76 ran under 2:20. Greg Meyer, wearing number 3, won the race in a time of 2:09:00. Greg ran the race again in 2013, this time with his two sons.
The Second Boston Massacre
The Second Boston Massacre occurred 243 years after the first. It was within sight of The Old State House. Two hours after the winners had crossed the finish line, with thousands of runners still on the course, the blasts rang out—first one and then 13 seconds later, the other. The smell of sulfur and the screams of the injured filled the air. A 61-year old Los Angeles artist, running her first race, cried out, “Oh my God, it’s a bomb.” It was, indeed, a bomb—a pressure cooker bomb filled with gunpowder, small nails, and metal balls, constructed by a religious fanatic.
The scene quickly became one of unspeakable horror. Severed limbs were scattered about. People were lying on the ground amid shattered glass, covered in blood. Spectators stampeded the metal barriers and rushed headlong into oncoming runners.
And then the Boston spirit, the American spirit emerged. Victims and heroes came together. Residents living along the route came out of their homes to offer food and comfort. Exhausted runners ran two more miles to nearby hospitals to donate blood. Weary doctors and nurses who had gone off duty returned to care for the wounded. Firemen, policemen, and city workers formed emergency teams, clearing debris, loading bodies on stretchers, controlling the crowd. Bystanders removed their shirts and belts and offered them as tourniquets. A man who had finished his race and won a medal took it off and gave it to a 25-year old woman who had been stopped half a mile from the finish line. “You are a finisher in my eyes,” he said. A bagpiper went to the federal courthouse and started to play Amazing Grace. “I wanted to playsomething in remembrance,” he said. “ I wanted the terrorists to hear it and know they had failed.”
People all over the world expressed support, love, and good wishes for Boston. Even the people of Syria, a country that witnesses bombings and killings every day, sent their sympathies. Old rivals buried friendly animosities. The Sports Page of the Chicago Tribune claimed all of the Boston sports teams as Chicago’s own. The New York Yankees, played the Boston Red Sox “anthem” Sweet Caroline before a game to honor their comrades. The Boston Bruins projected a “Boston Strong” ribbon on the ice before a game. As fans joined in to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”, the designated soloist lowered the microphone to allow the voices of the crowd to fill the arena. Thousands of people sent photos and videos taken on cameras and cell phones hoping they might provide clues. They did. The President of the United States promised the people of Boston that justice would be done and that the Marathon would run again.
When the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, even then, there will be one more sound: that of [man’s inexhaustible voice]…man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal…because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion, sacrifice, and endurance… William Faulkner
The story is not over. The FBI, the Justice Department, and local law enforcement officials found the perpetrators. One, Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead, killed in a shootout with police after having murdered a young MIT Security Officer. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is hospitalized. He has been read his rights by a United States Magistrate and has been charged with" using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death"; and with "malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death". He has admitted to being motivated by jihadist ideology. In another tie to the Massacre that occurred more than 200 years ago, a federal defender has been appointed by the government to represent the accused. He will be tried, all of the facts will come out, and justice will be done. We will prevail.
Filed under: Living in Interesting Times