April 15, 2013 was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts and Patriots’ Day is a civic holiday commemorating significant battles of the American Revolutionary War which was a war that helped to free our nation of tyranny and brought about our independence. The holiday is celebrated with reenactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, a home Red Sox Game and the Boston Marathon.
Just a few days ago the celebration of Patriots’ Day was interrupted by a senseless act of terror. It’s too early to know who, or what, was involved but for the purpose of what I’m about to share it doesn’t matter. I’m a Christian and I don’t use this blog to push my views upon anyone but my beliefs obviously influence what I write so please know that I have, and will continue, to pray for those directly affected by the blasts that occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I have, and will continue, to pray for those who were indirectly affected like many of you who are trying to explain a senseless act of violence to your children and for all of us who are trying to make sense of a senseless act. I have, and will continue, to pray that those responsible are brought to justice knowing that no justice can undo what has already been done.
There are only two ways someone gets to run the Boston Marathon. The marathon is not open to the general public, you must either qualify or raise money through a charity and run for a cause. The Boston Marathon is one of the most competitive running events in the world and many of the world’s elite distance runners compete in the event. To qualify you must run an insane qualifying time. I’m a runner myself, I’ve never run a marathon and I have no desire to, the races I run are of the 5 and 10K variety. I’m never a threat to win but I do compete against myself and try to improve upon my personal times and many of the elite runners in the Boston Marathon are trying to do the same, there is afterall only one winner even amongst elite runners.
The other group of runners in the event are running for a cause. Maybe they’re running to raise awareness of a charity. Maybe they’re running to raise money to cure a disease like childhood cancer. Maybe they’re honoring a loved one who has suffered a terrible illness or injury. They’re not running to win or record a personal best time, they’re running to finish and finish for a cause. They are trying to make their world a better place.
The bomb that went off at the finish line was detonated at a time when the runners who were running for a cause would finish. The elite runners were long gone, most had probably had time to shower and get a post race meal by the time the bomb went off. The timing wasn’t an accident and the design was to affect the largest number of people and send the biggest message, whatever message can be sent with violence towards good people who are doing good things for good reasons.
When things like this happen and we struggle to understand why; we find ourselves looking for answers. I’m not a news watcher, I spend most of my time trying to understand what’s going on in health care but following the events in Boston I watched the news. I watched video footage of the explosion. I read reports of the eight year old boy who died in the blast while hugging his father at the finish line. I saw video footage of the white smoke billowing up from the street but I also saw something else.
I saw first responders, military personnel and innocent bystanders run towards the smoke. The runners who made the biggest difference at the Boston Marathon were those who ran to help. Those who ran into, rather than away from, the plume of white smoke are heroes and they are patriots. We can not make sense of a senseless act but sometimes a senseless act reaffirms our faith in mankind and reaffirms that good overcomes evil. Whoever set the bombs was trying to make a statement, trying to send a message that we will never understand, nor do we care to.
The message I received loud and clear is that there are heroes among us everyday and those heroes don’t run races, those heroes run into the unknown, they run towards, not away from, an explosion. They risk their lives to save a stranger. They shield and comfort.
The message I received on Monday, April 15, 2013 is that there are Patriots among us.