Boston Marathon Bombing:


I am having the hardest time putting my thoughts into words about this year’s Boston Marathon. I fear no words will suffice. But let me begin here:

During my freshman orientation at Colgate, I jokingly told my new floor mates that I was “Emily, from Lexington, home of the Revolution.” My friends to this day will recall my dorky comment. Perhaps it was na??ve, showing my vulnerability and continued attachment to home, at a time when I was supposed to be embracing a new culture, new friends, a new home. However, I think a better word for my Lexington comment is pride. I am proud to be from a state that celebrates the beginning of a long trek towards independence. And so it is only appropriate that we celebrate this day with a marathon.

The 26.2-mile course is notoriously one of the toughest, with a deceivingly easier downhill start, only to be punctured by Heartbreak Hill at the most challenging miles. The turn onto Boylston St., with a crowd five people deep and cheers from strangers calling your name, is the moment to remember why you are doing what you are doing. For me, running the Boston Marathon is a celebration of my mobility, and an honor to those without it. This reasoning became all the more meaningful within a few fateful seconds.

I finished this year’s marathon with tears in my eyes, from the happiness of running a personal record-time. I grabbed a water bottle as well as an aluminum foil blanket, a smile pasted across my face. Then, just a minute after crossing the finish line, I heard a noise I will never forget. A noise I never want to hear again. A noise I keep replaying in my mind. My smile disappeared as I turned around to see a glooming white cloud of smoke. Before my very eyes, a second explosion occurred. My gut reaction was, “that was not normal, that was a building, and are the explosions going to continue down the road?”

My next reaction was to run towards the site but what stopped me was the silence. An echoing blast followed by the deadest silence I have ever experienced, with runners turning their heads to see what had happened a mere block away. And then: quick chatter, people asking out loud to everyone, to no one, “were those fireworks?” or “should we run?” I called my parents, whom I had spoken with just seconds before exclaiming that I had finished the race. Thankfully, they decided to walk several blocks past the finish line to meet me. Never before have I experienced the fragility of life in so many ways.

The “what ifs” running through my mind are torture. What if I had run the last two miles a minute slower? What if my parents decided to wait at the finish line? It’s not fair to have these thoughts, because at the end of the day, I am purely lucky. My sore quadriceps and achy knees are nothing compared to what some families are facing today.

My emotions, retrospectively in the days after the incident, are all over the place. How is it possible to go from such sheer joy to utter panic within twenty seconds? I think about those injured, and it breaks my heart into a million pieces to think that many of them were shouting my name as I neared the finish line. They were cheering on a stranger. They were the ones who helped me, and so many others, cross the finish line. This is heroism at its finest.

And I am proud. Boston is a resilient, tightly-knit community. The word “bombing” does not resonate in my head. I can’t wrap my head around the heinous act. Marathon Monday will now be known as the Marathon Bombings, and to me that is disheartening. While we should never forget what happened yesterday, we should also never forget what Patriot’s Day celebrates. It is about overcoming odds and persevering through tough times. We, as a city, as a nation, as a world, will one day finish a marathon trek, crossing the finish line

towards peace.