April 15, 2013

What Kind of Day Has it Been

I'm sure a lot of people are talking about the Tragedy at the Boston Marathon today. I would like to add my perspective to the group. I am only doing this because I have been deeply affected by this event and feel that I have a unique perspective.

First off, can we please call this what it is: a terrorist attack. I absolutely understand the aversion to this phrase because "terrorism" has a specific connotation in today's zeitgeist. However, the word "Terrorism" is an accurate descriptor of what occurred today. Let us examine the facts. The goal of terrorism is to promote terror. The explosive devices went off just after the 4 hour mark according to the official marathon clock. 4 hours and about 9 minutes to be exact. the average marathon finish time is 4 hours, according to Runner's World, whom I consider to be an authority on the subject.
That means that the most amount of people will be potential victims. the majority of people will be crossing the finish line at that time, which also means that the most amount of spectators will be waiting for them to finish, i.e. higher victim potential. And while the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has start times in "waves" to control the running crowds, the runner and spectator numbers are at their peak at this point in the race. If the devices had gone off at 2 hours or really anything sub 3, those are elite runners, which draw crowds, but will have a limited casualty rate. And, I don't know if this is a factor, but many of the elite runners are from other countries, and it is a logical assumption that most of the runners in the about-4-hour range are Americans and their families as spectators.

Why is my perspective special? 

My mom and stepdad ran the marathon today. As did a couple of their friends that I know and several that I don't. And about 23,300 other people.
My Mom and Stepdad.
Take a minute and look at the TOD. TOD is the time of day in military time and "time" is their race or chip time that marks the exact time from when they cross the start to the finish, which will probably differ from official race time. I was on my way down to my dad's, but I waited to leave until I got a notification from the BAA iphone app that Joe had crossed the finish line because my mom had finished 10 minutes earlier. I updated my facebook post so our friends and family could see they finished, and then left for my dad's. That's when I got a text from a friend.
The bomb went off at 2:49pm.
I spent the next hour and a half trying desperately to get ahold of my mom and stepdad. The phone lines were jammed, and even if they weren't, neither carry phones when they run so I needed to wait patiently for them to get to their hotel and access their phones.
Patiently. Ha! My mom was in trouble. I called her about 50-60 times, and probably 10 of those went through, only for me to get kicked to voicemail. If you have ever known someone involved in a terrorist attack or any event like this, you know the stress and drama involved of just wanting to know they're okay. Just wanting to know some information. Something, anything.
So I had the news on at my dad's, searching the crowds for my mom. Trying to will the news to say what time it actually happened other than "just before 3pm" and trying to calculate the exact amount of time it takes to hand in your chip timer, get a medal, and walk away. Wondering if they would wait for another friend to finish, and having no idea. And I am so glad now that I didn't know the exact time.
Because If I had hear it was the exact same time Joe crossed the finish line I would have driven straight up to Boston. I have a friend of a friend's place lined up to stay in and HELL to traffic and everything else, my mom is there. I'm going. And I would have driven until I heard from her.
I did eventually get a call from my mother, at 4:21pm. Joe texted me, and I couldn't actually talk to her until 5:30 this evening. I am so thankful that my mom and Joe are both unharmed.

Then there's this guy:
This Guy
This guy who, by the way, is in the bottom righthand corner or right side of every bomb video being shown is my step-dad, Joe Curcio. The bomb was just ahead of the finish line that Joe crossed at TOD 3:49:52. Chip time 4:08:35
Joe is fine, When I was on the phone with Dolly, my mom, she mentioned that Joe was closer to the explosion and picked a small shard of glass out of his arm. She made sure to point out that it probably won't scar, and there wasn't even any blood. At which point I could hear Joe protesting in the background, "There's blood, look right here!" pointing to an apparently small dot where the shrapnel was. I could practically hear my mom rolling her eyes at his marathon injury. Give the guy a break. He got nearly blown up today. 
But seriously, a lot of people were for-reals hurt. Some were killed and seriously hurt or lost limbs. Some were children. And for the families that waited and waited for news and heard none, only to have their worst fears realized, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This was a terrifying, horrifying and harrowing day with many more to come for you. I wish that there was something I could do other than offer my condolences, prayers and the goodwill of all of the United States today and all days. I pray for strength, understanding, patience, and healing. 

What I hope comes out of this. 

I really truly hope that we remember not only those who were killed, hurt and affected by this tragedy, but also those who helped. Do me a favor. watch this video of the explosion. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Okay. The runners who could kept going, honestly, legit. Get away from the exploding around you. But then watch it again. Watch and pay close attention to those who run towards the bombs. They had NO idea if there would be more. They had NO idea what was happening. They ran towards the explosion.
Thank you.
Really, thank you.
There were race officials, EMTs, Nurses, Police, Bomb dogs, military personnel and volunteers that scrambled to adjust their race plan from dehydration and exhaustion patients to war-scene IED bloody trauma of runners and spectators.
There is a picture floating around facebook right now, it's a Mister Rogers quote.
Who doesn't love Mister Rogers? Communists.
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
I can't stop thinking about the people who ran towards the bombs. That is my definition of Bravery. You are my heroes. You are the reason I keep my faith in humanity. You may not have saved the world, solved global warming, world hunger or cured disease, but you saved someone's world.

You give me faith that there are people in this world to combat the bad with good, not with guns and violence but with love and caring.

~Update, April 16, 2013~
There is one thing that I was thinking about all day and wanted to add to all of this. In the aftermath of this terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, I want us to Rally. What do I mean by that? I want this weekends Marathons to continue as planned. London and Madrid have both confirmed their marathons will happen.
I want people to not be scared to leave their home, or go to a sporting event. Or Participate in sports. I want children to watch their parents cross a finish line without fearing for their lives.
And I want Boston to come back next year with a vengeance. I want the BAA to be utterly flooded with marathon applications, I want the BAA to be forced to allow more participants. I want the crowds at the start, the finish, and at Heartbreak Hill to be double than what they were this year. I want record-breaking.
In the West Wing episode Isaac and Ishmael, which was the first episode after September 11th attacks, Sam says to a group of high school students "It's 100% failure rate. Not only do terrorists always fail at what they're after, they pretty much always succeed in strengthening whatever it is they're against."

So that's what I want. I want unequivocal proof that whoever did this failed. Let's make it great.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

WOW, this is a great post, Jane! When I heard about it, I kept thinking - do I know anyone who's running that race? I'm so glad that Dolly and Joe are ok. And props to you for pulling out that which is hopeful and the direction that we should move forward in coming out of this. Thanks! :)