BOSTON -- I am sick of giving my thoughts and prayers. I am sick of standing for a moment of silence. I am sick of it all. Whether it was the catastrophic events of September 11, 2011 or the lone-wolf criminal acts of Oklahoma City in April of 1995 or bombing of Centennial Park in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympics, or so many, many more, I'm just sick and tired of it all.
When I feel like this, my writing always comes up empty, because I just can't reach for my inner feelings. It hurts too much.
It hurt far too much this past December 14, as a senseless act took the lives of 20 young children and six brave adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, a town I literally drove through that very morning when returning from my native New York to my new hometown of Boston. That crime hurt so much because of the little children robbed of their lives and taken from this earth in the years of their absolute innocence.
Now, here in Boston in 2013, we mourn again. We were enjoying a wonderful holiday in the Commonwealth and we were all celebrating on a day when the Boston Marathon weaves its way from Hopkinton through Wellesley and up the "Heartbreak" hills of Newton Centre right on through towards Brookline and, fnally, into Boston. The day was aptly described by weathermen everywhere as "perfect."
The elites started us off at 9 a.m. for the women, leading some 11,000 fellow females out to one of the most challenging marathon courses a runner will ever see. The elite men ran off at 10:00 a.m. and they chased the women and the physically challenged runners all the way toward Copley Square, some 26.2 miles away, suntan lotion applied on a glorious spring day when the very best of Boston was on display under a clear blue sky.
Out in Lexington and Concord, tributes were paid to the men and women who fought for the American Revolution. They are the patriots we hold forth and celebrate each year on Patriots' Day in Massachusetts and even though I'm a newfound Bostonian, Patriots' Day is in my blood. I awake and I feel it every year. It is part of the fabric of the Boston community and you feel it.
And talk about fabric, like non-other, the Boston Red Sox are this community. The Red Sox toss the ball at 11:00 a.m. on Patriots' Day every year and it is the toughest ticket in town, especially on a glorious spring day when the temperature pushes 55-degrees fahrenheit and the Sox are off to a great start. To be at Fenway on Patriots' Day is as good as it gets, unless you have a front row seat for the Boston Marathon.
And guess what? We all have that!
Whether you make your way out to Hopkinton, as I like to do, or you take your lawn chairs up the block to Commonwealth, as I have done many a time, or you head downtown to take in the sights along Mass Ave or in Brookline, it just doesn't get any better than cheering on the runners. Runners like 66-year old Amby Burfoot who I had the pleasure of working with all this past week as he prepped for the 45th anniversary run of his 1968 Boston Marathon victory. Amby -- nobody calls him Burfoot or Mr. Burfoot -- was quite the story this year and he made the rounds on all the radio and TV circuits, he spent time with the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe and he was a gracious guest on all of the shows, inviting the average guy, the average runner to join him and his family as they ran the race with two things in mind -- to have fun and to finish healthy.
Amby was stopped short of that goal on Mass Avenue in Boston because there was a terrible disturbance in the force, the force that guides all runners and marathoners, the force that guides most of us. The force of sportsmanship, competitiveness and the force of reaching deep into the human spirit was ransacked by a cowardly criminal act. As some of the thousands of runners were crossing the finish line at Copley, two bombs detonated and the world changed again, sadly to the extreme far opposite side of righteousness and into the depths of hell where the cowards will exist in the afterworld.
The terror was extreme and the death toll rose from two to three souls overnight, as the police and authorities worked every waking hour to try their very best to restore order and to track down the criminals responsible for this act, but overnight the worst of the worst of the worst news surfaced.
The face of this criminal act is that of an innocent eight-year old boy and his family.
At this early point in the criminal investigation, we do not know why. We lash out against why, we try to figure out why, but we just don't know why. The anger is not healthy, but, we must recognize that it exists.
Runners and fans, athletes and their families are as far away from political figures as you can get. They compete and they entertain us. They are sportsmen and, ever increasingly, sports women. They are global citizens, especially at a world class marathon where people from all over the world come to celebrate their sport and test their endurance in a race where they must qualify to do so. Boston is history, it's the Wimbledon of running. It is classy and it is beautiful, even on a 96-degree day like last year or a 32-degree day like so many before.
Hundreds of innocent people stood in Copley Square, many smiling and celebrating as their loved ones crossed the finish line. Then, like New York in 1993 and 2001, like Atlanta in 1996, like countless other cities and towns -- in the U.S. and worldwide -- we experienced the cowardice of crime and terrorism that was inserted, once again, into our daily lives.
That is the question my little girl looked up and asked of me yesterday afternoon when she didn't know an 8-year old was murdered. Now, today, with the news that this crime has the name and face of an 8-year old, that is the question every parent is being asked again, many by a youngster who will relate to the late Martin Richard.
None of us have an answer and unfortunately, there's a good chance we never will.