The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 was a human tragedy of immeasurable sadness.
However, what's even more tragic is the specific group which the responsible party targeted: marathon runners (and their families) that had committed endless time, finances and energies to prepare for one of the world's most respected sporting events in the Boston Marathon.
All acts of terror at home and abroad are extremely horrific, but the attacks at the 2013 Boston Marathon stand out as incredibly disheartening. While there's always a select group of marathoners competing to actually win the race, the overwhelming majority of entrants are simply running to achieve various personal goals in life.
Regardless of an entrant's true reason for entering the marathon, participants, their families and their friends become like one big race family.
Kristin Armstrong of Runners World suggested:
Today our running community, our family, was attacked. No matter where we live, what we do, how fast we are, what our dreams are, what we are running from, or where our miles lead—we are a running family. We mark miles, we ache, we try, we fail, we triumph and we endure. I don’t know if our family was the target, or if the splendor of the event or venue was the intended backdrop—but it doesn’t really matter. We are hurting. We are wounded. We are wondering. We fear. We grieve.
Not only did the act of terrorism strike race participants, but it also devastated the lives of race patrons. In fact, whoever was responsible understood when and how to inflict mass destruction amongst the crowd.
Time's Jay Newton-Small wrote about the timing of events:
The Boston Marathon is the oldest continuously run marathon in the world. This year it drew more than 26,000 runners from more than 60 countries. The bombs went off just at the peak average finishing time, when the crowds would be thickest. Unlike many other races, the Boston crowds stay and grow during the day rather than wane after the elite runners finish. The race is so revered it is run on a beloved Massachusetts holiday: Patriot’s Day. “It’s an amazing race to run,” says Terry Delaney, who traveled to Boston with Hill and Schlitt. “It’s the only time in our lives where we get to feel like rock stars. People 20-deep are cheering you on like it’s their job and they get paid to do it. It’s an incredible marathon.” The bombs that tore through the crowds on Monday appeared to be aimed more at the crowds than the runners. The blasts came from the sides of the course, among those gathered to cheer the runners on. Indeed, it was easier for the runners to get to safety. They had a cleared route down which to bolt — the street itself.
The saddest story to come from the bombings thus far is the passing of eight-year-old Martin Richard. Yes, an innocent eight-year-old little boy lost his life while simply cheering on runners. Further, his mother underwent brain surgery and his six-year-old sister reportedly lost a limb. As for the father, his medical status has not yet been made official.
Not too far from where young Martin stood, a pair of brothers, ages 31 and 33 (again simply cheering on runners), both lost limbs. While these two young men will have to live the rest of their lives without limbs, the tragedy extends to family members like the boys' mother.
Foxnews.com reported on how the mother was taking the news:
Norden (the mother), meanwhile, had braced herself for the moment when she would be allowed to see her sons, who were apparently standing next to the 8-year-old boy who died in the blast. As FBI officials and local police left the hospital late Monday, Norden sank her head onto the shoulder of her brother-in-law. A relative then approached, handing her Tylenol she had asked him to buy at a nearby pharmacy.
In reviewing the Boston Athletic Association's demographic data of 2013 Boston Marathon entrants, the following figures show just how many walks of life were impacted by the bombings:
Wheelchair Entrants: 54
Handcycle Entrants: 21
Countries of Residence Represented: 74
As video of the finish line bombings ran continually across television networks, I couldn't help but take close notice of the multitude of flags waving at the finish line. It was a stark reminder that this is much more than an American tragedy, it's a tragedy that citizens from all walks of life will be scarred by for the rest of their lives.
As if planting time-sequenced bombs to inflict mass casualty wasn't enough, the cowardly party placed their explosive devices at actual the finish line. That's one of the biggest ironies of the whole debacle in Boston. While 23,336 entrants started the marathon, only 17,580 actually got to finish the race.
Boston is a tough town with a lot of grit and personality, as are it's citizens.
They'll rise to the tragic circumstance, as will folks from around the globe.
In the meantime, just remember to cherish every moment in life and remember the myriad of victims.