I was born and raised a southerner, but I have very strong connections to the city of Boston, Massachusetts: the “Athens of America”, “Bean Town” or “Our Fair City” as Tom and Ray Magliozzi refer to it. Tom and Ray (of NPR fame) went to the same college I did, MIT just across the Charles River from Boston.
Boston was a great place to go to school. Every Patriot’s Day, I would walk the length of the Harvard Bridge (some 364.4 Smoots, plus one ear) and make my way to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Oddly enough, I don’t remember ever seeing any of the winners cross the finish line. What I remember most is the joy on the faces of the also rans as they sprinted along as fast as they could to beat out their running buddies for 963rd place.
Very often you would see pain and anguish on the face of a competitor who had to summon every last ounce of courage in order to finish what they must have considered the defining race of their running career. Many times I saw runners with bandaged bleeding feet cross the finish line to the applause of appreciative fans who stayed by the finish line to honor the determination of every finisher.
I thought of all those bleeding feet as I watched the shocking TV coverage of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon last month. More than a hundred innocent people cut down, three of them fatally including an eight year old child. I can’t help but feel a sense of outrage at the perpetrators of such a crime. I’ll never think of Boston or the world’s most storied foot race in quite the same way ever again because of these jerks.
But life goes on. We have to have the same determination and grit as a marathon competitor to never let adversity sap our spirits. The Bostonians I met while I lived there are special. They take pride in their idiosyncrasies (for example referring to what most of us call a milkshake as a “Frappe”. If you order a milkshake in Boston, you’re likely to get flavored syrup shaken in milk with no ice cream). And Bostonians take pride in their history of fighting for freedom.
He was just a blue-eyed Boston boy
His voice was low with pain
“I’ll do your bidding comrade mine
If I ride back again
But if you ride back and I am left
You’ll do as much for me
Mother you know, must hear the news
So write to her tenderly
I have no worries that the city I once called home will bounce back from the tragic events of last month.
In about four months I’ll be celebrating my son’s 13th birthday. (wish me luck having two teenagers in the house). We’ll be celebrating while most people will be remembering our own generation’s “Day of Infamy”, September 11.
Ethan loves Boston just as much as I do. His favorite baseball team is the Boston Red Sox (Okay, I might have had something to do with that). I took him to visit my nephew , who lives in Boston, a couple of years ago and we went to Fenway Park So when the time came to play a few tunes at a fiddle jam back home weeks later, he called for Road to Boston, Goodbye Girls I’m Going to Boston and Boston Boy.