The people of Boston are defiant, resilient, courageous. Boston strong.
But they’re not foolhardy.
Bostonians and thousands of others were determined this year to celebrate Monday’s running of the renowned Boston Marathon in spite of last year’s terrorist bombing that claimed the lives of three and wounded more than 260. The city vowed to return even stronger than before, and it succeeded.
Around 36,000 runners, including 10 from York County, competed in the marathon, 9,000 more than usual. In addition, spectators lined the course, four deep on both sides, with many singing, chanting and pounding makeshift drums as runners passed.
It was an uplifting show of unity and purpose by Boston residents and those from other cities and towns who stood with them. It was a display of determination not to cower in the shadows or change their daily pattern of life because of what happened last year. Fear and terror would not prevail.
As Vice President Joe Biden stated during a memorial ceremony last week, “America will never, ever, ever stand down. We own the finish line.”
Even so, it can’t be said that nothing changed in Boston as a result of the bombing. This year’s race was under extraordinary security, with police stationed on roofs and other vantage points all along the route.
Backpacks and large packages of any kind were banned. People carried a few necessities in clear plastic bags.
More than 90 bomb-sniffing dogs were on the streets, and 100 new surveillance cameras were recording the scene at strategic spots along the 26.2-mile course. Boston is strong but it wasn’t taking unnecessary chances.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought the realization that the United States is vulnerable to foreign terrorist attacks. Last year’s pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon reminded us that homegrown terrorists also can pose a significant threat.
How we react to those threats determines our resilience. Ignoring them, being complacent, pretending the threats don’t exist would not make us stronger, just more vulnerable.
Confronting the threats, learning what we can about those who carry out such attacks, doing what we can to prevent new attacks and protect ourselves – and then continuing with our daily lives in the face of danger is what makes us strong.
Boston demonstrated how to do that Monday. The running of the marathon was a solemn event, honoring the dead and the wounded, but also a joyous event, a celebration of the core strength of a community and its hearty spirit.
Thanks, Boston, for being strong and serving as an example for the rest of us.