It would be wrong and a cliche to say we lost our innocence on Monday afternoon as a plume of white smoke drifted high above Boylston Street, as blood pooled on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library, as severed limbs lay amid the bruised and the bloodied and the stunned, their ears ringing, their ears bleeding.
We lost our innocence on another perfect day, in September, 12 years ago. But we lost something Monday, too, and that is the idea that we will ever feel totally safe in this city again.
We will get through this, but we will never be the same.
Yesterday marked both a patriotic holiday in Massachusetts and Israel Independence Day, which raises the possibility of Islamic terrorism. April 15 is also the deadline for filing federal taxes, which suggests the possibility of homegrown, antitax extremists. The pathological possibilities abound at this point.
A commitment to rise to the occasion, to endure what must be endured, to remember all who suffered and lost their lives in times of strife, is written into the fabric of the city. From the Bunker Hill Monument to the Tea Party ships, Bostonians are confronted with the stoicism of those who came before them. Monday’s assault on the city’s greatest shared ritual, the Boston Marathon, will remain in the city’s memory forever.
On the radio yesterday morning, I gave my advice to anyone attending the Boston Marathon: Go to the finish line late in the day, I said. Show up long after the world-class runners have crossed the line, picked up their prize money, headed to the airport and flown off to the next big race on the schedule. Then you’ll see the real champions, the true heart and soul of the Boston Marathon.
By the time the real winners cross, the finish-line tape has been ripped down and the street covered with litter. Oh, but what a scene. You wait until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and you’ll see the grandmother staggering across the finish line as her shrieking grandkids surround her. You’ll see wounded veterans, you’ll see friends or couples finishing arm in arm, you’ll see people literally crawl across the line and collapse on that one glorious painted patch of Boylston Street.
In a way, we saw it again this year, but this time it was not limited to the runners. It was in the first responders running toward the carnage, literally stepping into the smoke to help anyone who needed help. It was in the volunteers who normally are here to maintain order but were suddenly thrust into this frightening chaos.
On a day that was becoming another charming slice of what this city is all about, savages, attacking anonymously as cowards always do, turned the festive finish line into an instant war zone, randomly killing and maiming and terrorizing unsuspecting marathon fans as they were enjoying a sun-splashed afternoon.
Does the word “savages” bother you? Then guess what? You’re part of the problem America’s facing today, because no matter how loud liberal dolts may squeal, or how indignant it makes the ACLU, the inescapable truth emerging from yesterday’s bloodbath is that evil is a reality, not a theological myth.
It’s not complicated. Evil need not be understood. It simply needs to be eliminated, by any means necessary.