Now that it’s happened again, I remember how it felt the last time. I remember feeling like the nerves on my skin were burned, jangly, hyper-sensitive. I remember how I startled easily. I recall looking out the window more often, gazing up at the sky…although back then, I also remember the eery quiet that came from no planes flying overhead. I remember hoping there would be answers soon, cranking out as much work to update the UUA website as I could manage before I collapsed in exhaustion for a few hours. And I remember how calm it all felt here in my town, thirteen miles away from downtown Boston.
That was in the minutes in hours and days that stretched on, following the September 11, 2001, attacks on our country, some of which originated in Boston. Now, of course, is the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred on Monday afternoon. And while the circumstances are different, and the loss of life much less, it still feels like a punch to the gut of every person who calls Boston their home.
It was Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen who, interviewed the other day on the television news, said, “Bostonians care about only three things: sports, politics, and revenge.” And, he continued, in this case, revenge is about carrying on our lives, and not letting whoever perpetrated these acts change what we do and who we are. In a demonstration of solidarity, we saw the reviled New York Yankees raising a banner that had both teams’ names on it, and playing our beloved baseball anthem, “Sweet Caroline,” after the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Way to go, Evil Empire. Maybe we’re not so far away from each other, after all.
And in that spirit, last night the Boston Bruins held the first major sports game since the attacks (two other Celtics games were cancelled) and the entire Boston Garden joined in singing the National Anthem.
Bostonians — and I count myself as one now, having lived here for well over twenty years — are in general scrappy, intrepid, and prone to keeping on, no matter what. In these days following the attacks on the Marathon, story after story has come to light, of strangers opening their homes to stranded runners and tourists, of people who ran toward the blast, not away, to help those whose legs had been torn off or who lay on the ground, bleeding, of people who are donating to relief funds set up by area banks to help those whose injuries are so severe they will require extensive long term care.
Today, the President of the United States will come together with interfaith leaders at a worship service to remember those who died, those who were injured, those who came to aid the fallen. Meanwhile, the investigation into the crime goes on, painstakingly, relentlessly. I have every confidence that the answers will be found, that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. And that our city will recover. Again.
Way to go, Boston. In so many ways, by acts mundane and huge, our people show what they’re made of. And each time the Red Sox win (and Saints preserve us, they seem to be on a roll again) and our other baseball anthem, “Dirty Water,” pumps out of the Fenway Park sound system, I’m proud this is the place I call home.