Boston Marathon Explosions
As you may or may not have heard, there was some sad and scary news last week.
As tired runners were crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon — and friends, family, and thousands of fans cheered them on — two bombs exploded near the finish line last Monday.
Three people were killed, including an 8-year old boy, Martin Richard. He was there with his family to cheer on his father running the 26.2 mile race.
His mother and sister were badly injured. More than 170 other people were hurt too, some very badly.
But most lives were saved. Police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, and many, many regular citizens ran towards danger to go and help.
Less than a week later, police caught the two people who they believe committed the crime. They were two brothers, ages 26 and 19, who lived in the Boston area, but were originally from a part of the world called Chechnya (part of Russia). The older brother died during his capture. The younger brother was found the next day hiding in a boat being stored in a suburb of Boston. He is in the hospital now. Investigators plan to find out from him why he seems to have done this.
There are a lot of reasons to believe he, and his brother, were responsible, Massachussetts Governor Deval Patrick said on TV Sunday. But because the remaining brother has not been tried in court of a law yet, he will be called a suspect until then.
The attack was deliberate — to hurt and scare people. Thankfully, these situations happen very rarely. And our government, law enforcement, communities, and families do everything they can to keep us as safe as possible, especially after something like this.
President Obama vowed to find the person, or people, responsible. Police and the FBI worked tirelessly to solve the crime. There were a lot of video cameras at the finish, surveillance cameras at nearby businesses, and people taking pictures as well. These helped identify the suspects.
A memorial service was held Thursday in Boston to give words of comfort and peace as people try to make sense of why something like this would happen.
President Obama spoke at it. He compared the marathon to life: how it’s a long and sometimes difficult journey. When we need a little encouragement, he said, we get it, sometimes even from strangers. And if we fall down, we have to help each other up and keep running.
“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.'” —Mister Rogers
President Obama also gave examples of how, in the middle of the confusion and chaos of the explosion, strangers risked their own lives to stay and help others instead of running away to get themselves to safety.
Former football players used their strength to carry the injured to safety. Others gave the shirt off their back to use as bandages until those with wounds could get medical help.
People, exhausted after four hours of running, found the strength to keep running to a hospital to donate blood in case those who were hurt needed it. Or, in one case, a surgeon who ran the race, then ran to his operating room so he could operate on fellow injured runners.
Strangers invited people into their homes so they could rest and call loved ones. Volunteers directed traffic so police officers could stay focused on helping at the scene. Even friendly dogs , NBC News reported, were brought to hospitals to give comfort to those who, until then, had only thought of the pain they were in.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick pointed out that people’s first instinct was kindness. That seems to have been true throughout the country and around the world, as well.
A song traditionally played at the Boston Red Sox baseball games, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, was played at every baseball stadium in the country that had a game in the days after — a show of unity among teams that are usually rivals.
At the Boston Bruins hockey game, the national anthem was begun by the singer who’s been singing it for 35 years, Rene Rancourt, but was finished for the first time ever by the 17,000 fans. It was very moving and brought tears to many people’s eyes.
Leaders of other countries showed their support by saying that what happened in Boston was unacceptable, including Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin.
Why would someone do this? There have always been people who do bad things instead of good, or “destroy” instead of “build” as President Obama put it. There are no guarantees in life, but thankfully the number of people who commit such crimes is very, very small.
The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s most popular marathons, and is one of America’s great sporting events and traditions. It takes place on Patriot’s Day, a holiday in Massachusetts that most people have off so they go watch events like the marathon. There are a lot more people out and about than usual. Patriot’s Day also marks the opening battles of the American Revolution and symbolizes America’s independent spirit. Some people believe that extra crowds, the celebratory mood, and possibly the American symbolism may have been reasons the marathon was chosen for the attack.
Healing from this will take time. Long after the bombers are brought to justice, and this story will no longer be in the news, the family and friends of those who died will still be missing their loved ones. Many who were injured will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. It’s important to remember them.
President Obama and religious leaders spoke eloquently and for a long time about the importance of responding to such acts of cruelty with compassion. Toothy 8-year old Martin Richard, the youngest victim who is no longer here to speak for himself, perhaps communicated it even more powerfully than our leaders. He had made this homemade sign before any of this happened: