Ten Years Later, Boston is Stronger
City’s Spirit of Resilience Grows with Time
For those of us from the Boston area, April 15, 2013, lives vividly in our memories. With schools closed on Patriots’ Day, the official state holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord, early risers assemble on Lexington Green to catch a view of the reenactments, and then crowds flock to the streets from Hopkinton to Boston to watch the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox always play at home on Patriots’ Day, as runners make the final gritty push past Fenway Park into the heart of the city.
Sunshine blanketed Boston and the heat felt more like July than April. On a picturesque New England day, without a cloud in the sky, our entire community cheered on family, friends, and strangers as they trotted through my hometown of Natick. As a fourth grader, everything about that day, from the sun to the community to the baseball and the history, was truly perfect in my eyes. Best of all was the larger-than-life Boston Marathon, an event I knew as an exciting, dependable, and seemingly indestructible part of life growing up. Until it wasn’t.
In the years that have followed the Boston Marathon bombing, I, like many others in the Greater Boston area, have returned to that day many times. The contrasting feelings of blissful joy turned to confusion, then horror, and despair that will stay with us forever when we recall April 15, 2013. As the city and the surrounding area locked down for days during the ensuing manhunt, the Boston Strong campaign was just getting started and the Red Sox made it a point to play baseball on April 20, five days after the attack. In what is now an iconic pregame ceremony speech honoring victims and first responders, Red Sox legend David Ortiz, “Big Papi,” declared that “this is our f*cking city. Nobody is going to dictate our freedom.” To my ten-year-old ears, that was pretty much the greatest thing I had ever heard. Papi’s speech has resonated with the community throughout the years, speaking to the resilience of the Greater Boston area.
During the aftermath of the tragedy, the strength of Boston and of its people was on full display, from the spectators and public safety officials who ran towards danger to help in the seconds after the attack, to the outpouring of financial support for the One Fund, a charity that was arranged to assist survivors. Even as a fourth grader, I was processing and internalizing this spirit, the timeless spirit of Boston, that those who sought to knock us down through cowardly acts of terror only revealed further strength.
Stephen Colbert summed it up nicely on his show the day after the marathon, saying: “These maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show how good those people are.” Nothing could be more true. Now, ten years later, Patriots’ Day holds a reflective and proud meaning for people in Massachusetts and around the country.
Time has passed and our lives have changed since that week in 2013, but the spirit of Boston, the spirit of steadfast revolutionaries and hardworking immigrants, of valiant heroes and inspirational survivors, remains constant in the face of history. Bostonians have a reputation for being proud, but nothing makes me prouder than experiencing how the city, the Commonwealth, the country, and the world came together to rally and look out for neighbors and strangers alike following what is undoubtedly the hardest chapter in the modern history of Boston. A decade after the unthinkable, Boston has time and again shown itself to be a resilient city, its people turning to each other for support instead of turning on each other. It is full of people who wear their hearts on their sleeves, but who never back down from defending their own. It is full of people who have stared terror in the face and have emerged more united than ever, prouder than ever. They are people who truly define what it means to be Boston Strong.