Reflections on Boston

Reflections on BostonReflections on Boston

By Paul E. Gable

Down by the banks of the river Charles 
That’s where you’ll find me
Along with lovers, buggers, and thieves 
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home
The Standells – “Dirty Water” excerpt

I was one of the fortunate ones to be born in the City on a Hill, and have never forgotten that Boston was my birth city.

There might be over 900 miles between me and Boston currently, but there is no getting away from the city of your birth, especially when you still have family who reside there.

Especially, on a day like Monday, which was Patriots’ Day in Boston. The holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

And, unfortunately, it is a day that will forever be linked to tragedy and terrorism as someone thought it would be cute to set up bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I tried the best I could Monday to ignore news coverage, but there was no getting past the words bomb and Boston, I had to look.

And, I began to cry.

Much like the events unfolding before our eyes on Sept. 11, 2001, we, as a country, gathered around television sets and computer screens completely shocked with what we were seeing.

I vividly remember everything about Sept. 11, 2001. I can recall getting ready for a day of classes at Newberry College and my wife and I turning on the television just in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center and I can remember that horrific feeling in the pit of my stomach, watching mass chaos and tragedy ensue in a city that I had only heard so much about from family.

It returned, but something was different.

Damnit, this was where I am from — this was for all intents and purposes my backyard. I have walked Boylston Street. I have been to Copley Square and Boston Common.

And, I, perhaps like you, thought we would never see another terrorist attack on our streets.

We believed we were safe.

We believed that bombings at sporting events only happened in places like Iraq or South American soccer games.

We believed that we would never see terrorism, again, either domestic or foreign, strike us on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

And, then, on Monday, it did.

There were explosions, there were fireballs and there was smoke rising.

Crowds of people screamed, while first responders, again, rushed to tend to those in need.

Currently, three are dead, many were maimed and scores of people injured all in a scary and gruesome reminder that the threat of terrorism isn’t something we’ve put behind us.

Monday offered no doubt that we are still engaged with terrorists, whether they be domestic or foreign, and that, despite what those in Washington, D.C., may have you believe, we are no safer today than we were on Sept. 10, 2001.

There’s plenty of questions that do not have answers right now such as who and why. Unfortunately, we may never get those answers as it has been 12 years since 9-11, and we, as a country, still struggle to fully grasp why we were attacked.

But, here is what I do know — much like Sept. 11, life will go on and we will not be paralyzed with fear.

Boston is a tremendous city that will bounce back, as will its people.

And, I know that the words of former President George W. Bush ring as true today as they did on that tragic late summer day in 2001, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

We will win this fight.

(Ed. Note: The writer is a journalist in Indiana and my son.)

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