Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Thoughts and Advice

Boston, MA.  The 2013 Boston Marathon.

I was sitting at work when my Mother called me on my cellphone.  It was 3:30 on Monday, April 15, 2013.  At the time, I thought it curious that my Mother was calling me on my cell phone.  She sounded concerned.

"Hi honey.  I just wanted to make sure that you, LC and the kids were OK."  What the Hell is she talking about?  "Did you hear what happened at the Boston Marathon?"  I hadn't.  We just got home from a tournament in Providence and I went to work to get some clean up items done.  We were nowhere near Boston today.

I stopped what I was doing and went on Boston.com as I was talking to her.  The website wouldn't load and gave me an over capacity error message.  The last time that happened was on September 11, 2001.  That is isn't good, I thought to myself.  So I went onto NECN.com.  The front page story told me that there were bombings at the Boston Marathon.  Details were scant, but the reports were saying that there were two blasts on Boylston Avenue right near the Finish Line at the Boston Marathon.  The lone video available at the time showed the Finish Line timer at 4:09 and among the runners trying to finish was a fire bomb that filled up the screen on the right hand side of the screen.

It was an eerie, scary scene.

"No we didn't go into Boston today."  I told my Mom.  But I knew other people who had.  And those blasts seemed to be at the time that they may have finished...right at the 4 hour mark.

As I was talking, LC texted me asking what happened at the Marathon.  I told her what I knew, which was not much.  My thoughts drifted to getting the boys who were at a friend's house.  Some of it was to make sure they were OK as a parent is wont to do, and some of it was to talk to them about a part of History they were witnessing.  One of LC's best friends had attended the Marathon that day.  When you have hundreds of thousands of people go into Boston, stories like that will come out.  We all know someone who was near the Finish Line four hours and nine minutes into the Marathon.

But we all know what happened by now.  Three people dead.  172 people injured, some grievously.  The boys started tiring of the coverage about an hour in since no new information was coming in.  I answered their questions for a little while, but then their questions centered more on wheat was for dinner.  We decided to shield our 6 year old daughter from the coverage since a lot of the pictures and video showed massive amounts of blood on the streets.  Why does she need feel sad on a nice day like this?  I have a feeling we'll be talking about this for the next couple of weeks and then next April.  That's enough coverage for me.

And as I write this, I want to be realistic about my thoughts.  I think this was done by a gutless person acting alone.  This is too crude for an Al Queda attack or some other terrorist attack.  This was too random for a coordinated nationalistic attack.  This struck me more of a Boston attack from a Boston native, than a international attack against the United States.  In fact, this reminds me more of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing or the Oklahoma City bombing, than a coordinated terrorist attack.  Nothing surprises me about the last 24 hours, but I guess what surprises me the most is that no one has come forward saying that they saw some strange guy leaving back packs near the Finish Line.

And some words of advice from a citizen of Massachusetts.  Next April, this has to go on.  The terrorists have won if we cancel the Marathon, right?  I have two tweaks to next year's race that I personally would like to see instituted.

1.  What needs to happen next year is for people to be near the Finish Line with tickets only.  The Marathon is a "soft target" because people can easily come and go, so make it so that that can't happen.  Barricade the Back Bay along the Public Garden, the South End, Kenmore and Newbury Street.  If you want to be that close, you need to have a ticket and be subject to search.  The grid like pattern of the streets lends itself to barricade and ticketing. 

2.  This part is what hurts me the most.  Part of the chaos that occurs at the Marathon at the four hour mark has to do with the Patriots Day Red Sox game.  hundreds of thousands of visitors line the streets and then when you add 38,000 Red Sox fans who may or may not be drunk adds to the distraction.  I did the walk from Fenway to the Public Garden back in 2011.  It took 2 hours to walk 10 blocks.  Unfortunately, I think the game has to go.  This will alleviate pressure at the Kenmore part of the Marathon.

I'm saddened by the events in the Back Bay yesterday.  Things will never be the same and nor should they be.  We would be doing a disservice to those who lost their lives and limbs and to those who risked their lives trying to help.  I'm not going to pretend to pray for Boston because that's not me.  But I am going to hope that this is the last time this ever happens. 

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