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In the wake of Marathon bombings, Boston’s pride becomes its strength

On Monday April 22 at 2:50 p.m., I joined my fellow Emmanuel classmates in a moment of silence for those affected by the recent Marathon bombings. As the chapel bells chimed the tune of “Peace on Earth,” I contemplated the events of last week, and the positive strength and resilience in our city’s response to tragedy. Amidst the devastation of the typically joyous Boston Marathon and the murder of a member of our own police force, we united instead of being torn apart, coining a phrase that spread like wildfire through social media: “Boston strong.”

For those of us who have experienced living in this city, it is not uncommon to boast of a particular Boston pride. It is a type of pride that grants us the freedom to drink recklessly at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, regardless of whether we’re Irish, and to despise Yankees fans, whether or not we follow baseball; it is this pride that motivates us to stubbornly believe that our city is the best, which most often, only leads to trouble with non-Bostonians.

When we are threatened by outsiders, this pride becomes our strength.

Those familiar with Boston’s history may recognize a pattern of rebellion: when the British attempted to enforce their right to tax Americans, Bostonians responded with the infamous Tea Party, which influenced the start of the American Revolution. Then during the Civil War era, the city was responsible for several antislavery efforts, circulating information that opposed national law through the Boston Emancipation League and its newspaper, the Boston Commonwealth. It is safe to say that Boston is not only a city that stands for something, but it is a city that stands up for itself and its people, a leader in social progress.

And let’s not forget athletic achievement.

Often, it is in times of seeming weakness or vulnerability that Boston’s strength becomes most apparent, a concept that is best exemplified through our home baseball team and the pride and joy of the Fenway: the Red Sox. In 2004, the team managed to win a World Series for the first time in 86 years, reversing the “Curse of the Bambino” that resulted when its own Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees. They succeeded when they were expected to fail, and for this reason, the Red Sox have become a symbol of Boston’s resiliency.

Now, flash forward to Patriot’s Day 2013. The explosion of two bombs disrupts the Boston Marathon, arguably the most celebrated event in the city. Three are killed, over 140 injured. In the aftermath, Boston is devastated, but it is not broken. First responders risk their lives by running toward the explosions to help, and there is an outpouring of love and support from outside, and within, the Greater Boston area.

The following Friday, a 26-year-old MIT campus police officer named Sean Collier is shot and killed by one of the bombing suspects, who is then killed in a shootout with local police. A citywide lockdown is ordered and eventually concludes in the capture of the second suspect.

A week that began with devastation ended in a beautiful, but bittersweet, camaraderie of Bostonians throughout the city. Cultural, religious and political differences ceased to matter as strangers united in the street to sing songs of national and local pride, from “Sweet Caroline” to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Each passing car was met with cheers, and each police car with chants of “B-P-D! B-P-D!” In local bars, officers were greeted with heartfelt toasts.

The two men who bombed the Boston Marathon lived in Cambridge. But they were not one of us. Last week, they threatened the security of our city, and our godforsaken Boston pride became our strength. This week, we are even stronger than we were before. We are, most accurately, “Boston strong.”

As I stood with my peers, I felt the weight of this strength among us. While it has been emphasized by recent events, it is a strength that is ever-present. As college students in Boston, we feel it when we pass crowds of fascinated tourists in Copley Square, when we don our Red Sox gear on Opening Day at Fenway, when we stroll through the Public Gardens in springtime. And we will continue to feel it, more powerfully in years to come, at the Boston Marathon, when we remember the week that lives were lost to the hateful acts of others, and our city refused to crumble, joining together as one.

Posted by on April 24, 2013. Filed under Around Campus,Around the Hub. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.