Written by Sean Monahan
I’ve always been proud to be a Bostonian, but never prouder than I was this week. We had been severely tested and Bostonians have passed that test with flying colors. I witnessed many acts of kindness and incredible acts of bravery on that very difficult day. It started as a great day, with everyone smiling, cheering on the runners. There were spectators and runners from every walk of life, from all ages celebrating Patriots Day in Boston. When tragedy struck, ordinary citizens became heroes without thinking of their own safety.
Courage under fire-we think of that phrase when talking about our soldiers, police or firemen, but Monday we saw great courage from those groups and our ordinary citizens. I saw young women who were standing at the ready to wheel runners with a sprained ankle or leg cramp, running toward the danger without skipping a beat after the first explosion. After the second explosion, we were obviously under attack but they continued coming and wheeling those that were able, quickly to our skilled doctors and nurses, saving lives and limiting the injuries to others. Some bystanders close to the bomb remained where they were to help those that had fallen. Glass was falling from the upper floors of the building behind them, they heard the second explosion from a block away, yet they stayed with their neighbors in need. They took off their shirts and belts to stop the bleeding and helped the first responders get the injured on stretchers, wheelchairs or ambulances. One woman pulled the burning pants from one man who was in obvious pain. They ignored the danger to themselves and saved lives.
We are Boston, we are courageous.
There were some soldiers nearing the finish line at the time of the first explosion. Surely they were exhausted after running 26.2 miles, but they saw a problem that needed to be solved immediately. The barriers set up to keep the spectators from the runners were now keeping the first responders from the injured. Those metal barriers looked to be indestructible, those men only had their bare hands, but those soldiers, together with police and volunteers started pulling on those barriers and tore them apart in seconds and pushed the barriers across the street. Where did they find that strength? By the time the ambulances and more medical personnel arrived, those barriers were gone. They saved lives.
We are Boston, we are strong.
We are blessed with the best hospitals and medical personnel in the world. Our ordinary citizens and first responders delivered the injured to their skilled hands with incredible speed. Those hands saved many lives and limbs. With the strength of those explosions in the middle of that enormous crowd, it’s only due to our skilled professionals that we didn’t have more losses.
We are Boston, we are skilled, we are the best.
Emergency vehicles were blocked in by other vehicles. There didn’t appear any way to free them up, but police cleared the pedestrians off the sidewalk and drove their vehicles over the curb, onto the sidewalk and were cleared to get where they needed to be.
We are Boston, we will find a way.
Did anyone doubt that these terrorists would be caught? We had the most skilled investigators from the city, state and federal level combing through every bit of evidence, working in unison. We also had Team Boston-Boston citizens for life, or just for that day. They may have been from the South End or Sweden, but this week, they were all Bostonians. Even New York fans were pulling for us. The FBI received thousands of tips, pictures and video immediately. As soon as those pictures were released, over 1 million pairs of eyes were looking for those losers.
We are Team Boston, you killed and maimed our children, there is no place you can hide.
There were countless acts of kindness towards strangers because on Monday, there were no strangers, we were all Bostonians. Many runners couldn’t get their bags with their phones, wallets and keys. A woman told the taxi driver she didn’t have any way to pay him-he said, “Get in, I’ll take you home”. Restaurants got the word out to those in need of something to eat, but couldn’t pay-sit down, relax and eat, pay what you can, if you can. I saw one woman comfort another woman she never met who was distraught because she couldn’t contact her husband. Spectators offered their cell phones to runners they never met, so they could contact their family. Another man was in a wheelchair with a hip injury, who was displaced from the medical tent when the trauma victims started coming in. He was cold and hungry. A woman passing by gave him her fleece coat and her daughter’s chocolate milk.
We are Boston, we are generous.
Roads were blocked, families were trying to meet up with the runners that were stopped. Phone service was limited or completely shut down. It was confusing and frustrating despite the outstanding efforts of the volunteers. These volunteers stepped in as traffic cops since our police had their hands full. They cleared the streets every time emergency vehicles passed through. At the corner of Berkley and St James, a young volunteer was doing his job, keeping an opening clear for the runners to get out and keeping spectators away from the medical tent. It was frustrating to hear that we couldn’t get through and we’d have to go back a block and walk around. But there was obvious compassion in his voice, he took the time to ask everyone where they were trying to get to and directed them calmly. I’m sure he didn’t realize the effect he had on us, but not only did he step up to serve an important function that day, he helped calm frayed nerves as did his job and turned us away.
We are Boston, we step in where needed, we are compassionate.
We are incredibly sad as we mourn for those that have fallen, especially for the Richard, Campbell, Lu and Collier families. We pray for them and those that are caring for victims that had horrific injuries. As we mourn this week, we must vow never to forget these families. As time goes on, won’t we forget these families? I know our neighbors from Dorchester won’t let that happen to the Richard family. Boston must never forget any of those who lost someone.
We are Boston, we will never forget.
We must also continue to celebrate this great country of ours. On the 4th of July, we will still pack the Esplanade and listen to the Pops. I can’t wait to celebrate the next world championship from one of our teams. The oldest first night in the country will also be the biggest ever. Is there any doubt, that on the next Patriots day, on the 118th running of the marathon, we will witness the biggest marathon ever? I will be there, in the same spot I had the last 5 years, at the finish line on Boylston Street. Only next year, I will cheer louder. I will cheer again for the elite runners and still hope for an American winner. I will also cheer those soldiers with their heavy back packs, Team Hoyt, anyone from Massachusetts, especially Boston, the young woman who does a cartwheel over the finish line, the guy dressed as a hot dog, the many dressed as hamburgers and everyone else who has the strength, endurance and courage to run Boston. I expect to have a record crowd next year cheering along with me.
We are Boston, we are resilient, we will not be intimidated.
We celebrate the capture of these terrorist and thank our police and federal agents for their fearless and relentless pursuit of the terrorists. In the face of danger, they never let up. They give us a reason to celebrate and enable us to sleep better at night. I am in awe of the incredible bravery and compassion of my fellow Bostonians. It’s an honor to live among you, the Best, the Brightest and the Bravest.
We are Boston, we are proud and after this week, we have every reason to be.
Sean Monahan is a lifelong resident of South Boston and the Supervisor of Accounting for the Boston Public LIbrary. He also has been coaching for the Gatey CYO Basketball for over 30 years.