5/15/2013. I was planting the first spring flowers in our garden when I heard about the bombs at the Boston Marathon. Two brothers, American citizens who had converted to extremist Islam, bombed the finish line in downtown Boston. 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, and 8-year-old Martin Richard were killed; hundreds were injured.
These terrorists tried to break apart the community, breed distrust, anger, and isolationism. But every year since, Bostonians and athletes from all over the world still come together to honor the tradition of the marathon and the memory of those lost.
Here are some drawings from this year's race where I saw people from near and far come together, support one another, and show each other the importance of courageous perseverance.
The disabilities category of marathoners now includes many who were injured in the 2013 bombing. Those with visibility impairments can have guides who ride along on bikes to help with navigation. This is the first group to go by on the route and incredibly inspiring. I can't even imagine the kind of mental and physical strength one needs to pull this off; I can't help but get choked up as the crowd responds with overwhelming cheers and the marathoners seem to be carried along by the crowd's goodwill energy.
Next up: the elite runners. The fastest women are followed by the fastest men. As they sprint by, they almost seem to be in a trance as their feet barely touch the ground. In a flash, they're nothing but a dot in the distance!
The elites are followed by everyone else, which this year amounted to about 27,000 runners. I was watching at the 17 mile checkpoint, so the runners had covered about 2/3 of their route and temperatures had climbed to the mid-70's. But not runner faltered. Several runners I saw with prosthetics, including Adrianne Haslet, who was standing on the sidelines when the 2013 bombs went off and lost a leg. I watched runner after runner go by, all ages and abilities, some with looks of pain on their faces and others who were beaming and even dancing. They all kept going.
The police were everywhere keeping a watchful eye.
But no one looked upset or tense, just happy and grateful to be here celebrating another marathon in Boston. One woman next to us proudly watched her son as he ran by, calling out, "Go, Shawn!" and then more quietly to herself, "go in peace."
Then she packed up her chair and told us she was off to meet her son at the finish line. "What a beautiful day!" we all agreed.
I remember the public funeral I attended of bombing victim Lu Lingzi, where her friend expressed a wish I believe marathoners and Bostonians will carry with them for every future race:
we do not understand why things happen sometimes in our lives. We will keep running to finish the race for you, we will try to fulfill your dreams.