Terrorism returned to domestic soil on Monday, and a horrified nation watched.
Two explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon, restarting a flood of emotions hauntingly familiar to anyone who lived through Sept. 11, 2001.
The nauseating pit in our stomachs. The unnerving fear whether there was more to come. The seething anger over which sick bastards could do this.
“WTF is wrong with people man,” Heat superstar LeBron James wrote via Twitter in the aftermath. “Just sad.”
Like Sept. 11, this was a coordinated attack designed for maximum exposure and impact on a major American city.
But unlike Sept. 11, the targets weren’t towering skyscrapers in New York that symbolized America’s economic might or the headquarters of America’s military near Washington, D.C.
This time, the target was a storied old sporting event. This time, the victims were spectators who came to cheer on triumphant runners completing personal journeys months and miles in the making. The last mile of this year’s race was dedicated to the young victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings last December.
And now America might mourn another young victim, with the Boston Globe reporting an 8-year-old was among the fatalities.
Such a disgusting act.
Yet the worst in humanity once again brought about the best in humanity. First responders rushed in to help the wounded amid the chaos. There were inspiring reports of runners going directly to hospitals to donate blood after the attack.
“We still don’t know who did this or why,” President Obama told the nation, vowing justice against the perpetrators.
All we had in the early hours was speculation. Was this a foreign plot or homegrown? Another Sept. 11, or another Oklahoma City bombing? The act of a sophisticated group or a lone wolf?
At day’s start, we were busy worrying about North Korea’s possible missile launch. But now we had been hit in the gut on Boylston Street on Patriots’ Day, the Boston holiday that marks the opening battles of the Revolutionary War. Not to be confused with Patriot Day, the national day of remembrance that Sept. 11 is now called.
Once again, we all feel assaulted.
“It just shows how sporting events are vulnerable,” said Harvey Greene, the Dolphins senior vice president for media relations, a recreational runner who last ran the Boston Marathon in 2001. “With a stadium, you can have metal detectors and screening, but with a marathon that stretches 26.2 miles over city streets, it’s hard to make it totally secure.”
As a former sportswriter who’s covered the Olympics and Super Bowls, I always wondered if somebody would again try to hijack a grand sports stage for twisted purposes. We saw it in Munich in 1972, with Israeli athletes held hostage and killed at the Summer Olympics. Never again, we had hoped.
As someone who went to college in Boston and once covered the race as an intern for the Boston Globe, I remember what a fun day Marathon Monday was, second only to St. Patrick’s Day on the local calendar.
They’ll run again, and drink again, and laugh again in Boston on Patriots’ Day.
But on Monday, there were only tears.
©2013 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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