Five years ago in Boston still seems like yesterday.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings on what they call Patriots Day in Massachusetts. Not for the football team, but for the thousands who became true patriots after the oldest marathon in the country was stopped five years ago at 2:49 p.m. by two bomb blasts.
I was in my hometown watching the race on what is annually Boston’s one-day Mardi Gras. Hundreds of thousands lined the race course from Hopkinton in western Mass to the finish line on Boylston Street. They cheered the elite runners, yes, but most of them saluted everyone else who ran the 26 miles then up Heartbreak Hill in Newton to the roaring welcome.
I watched from across the street when the two blasts went off within about 15 seconds. The first froze most everyone who did not know what exactly had occurred. The second blast created panic among the revelers because it was clear some kind of attack was under way.
First responders, police and fire fighters tried to clear the chaos on Boylston Street and, because they considered the bombs were detonated by a remote control device, they shut down cell service in the surrounding streets. That separated people from friends and race participants they were waiting to greet. It took hours for all of them to reconnect.
Three people died and dozens more were injured, some losing limbs that raised millions to further study amputations and improve prosthetics. Boston Strong became a slogan that was adopted in subsequent tragedies. Orlando Strong, Las Vegas Strong, Houston Strong and Parkland Strong – all meaningful to communities recovering from hardship and violence.
On Sunday, Boston held a city-wide moment of silence at 2:49 pm. On Monday morning, anyone could run a special short course that spelled out the city’s name. Ceremonies honoring the victims and their families will be held all day along the race route and at the infamous finish line.
As usual, the Red Sox play at 11 a.m., so when the game ends fans can walk from Fenway Park to cheer on more runners completing the marathon. The tragedy spawned a movie starring native Mark Wahlberg and hundreds of media memories over five years. It never should have happened, but a city coped and vowed it would grow stronger in years to come. I know it has.