OPINION – I’ve been to Copley Plaza in Boston a couple times.
As a beat writer covering the Los Angeles Kings hockey team many years ago, I would stay at a hotel on the plaza each time the team traveled to Boston to play the Bruins.
It was an incredibly cool experience.
The plaza was broad and open. I could walk a few blocks in any direction and run across landmarks I read about in history books.
There was a great little deli across the street from the hotel where I would go for an incredible corned beef on rye sandwich. There were street vendors who I would visit to purchase a delectable, sizzling hot dog and cold soft drink.
The winter air was always crisp and clear and the sunlight reflected brightly off of the mirrored façade of the John Hancock building.
Monday, however, the area around Copley Plaza was a crime scene.
A terror attack shattered the excitement and exhilaration that surrounds the Boston Marathon, the nation’s premier long-distance race.
Two bombs rocked the area near the finish line where exhausted runners who finished far out of the money celebrated completion of the grueling 26.2-mile race. The explosions came at a time when the thicket of runners who enter the race realizing they have no chance of winning cross the finish line. These are the real competitors, the ones who run from the heart. They run for the thrill of it, for the accomplishment of completing the most prestigious marathon on the planet, to challenge their courage and spirit.
The act of terrorism perpetrated on the city of Boston was an unconscionable, cowardly expression of hatred. We have been lucky in this nation to not have endured such incursions into our collective peace as regularly as elsewhere in the world where suicide bombers and other acts of terror are much more commonplace. That does not, however, lessen the impact or make Monday’s events any more palatable.
There were at least a half a million people on the streets lining the route of the race, more than 20,000 runners, and countless volunteers. If there was any good news it was that the route was filled with emergency personnel and doctors, stationed to assist those who, as is typical of a marathon event, require medical assistance. They were able to set up a triage station quickly and treat those injured as best they could in the field. I am sure a number of lives were saved as a result of the prompt attention.
There will be lingering wounds, however, as we come to grips, once again, with the violence of our world and the type of mindset that would justify the taking of innocent lives for whatever insane reason.
We’re being told to reassure our children that this is something extremely rare, that this is something that should not impact our day-to-day lives, that we should go about our lives in normal fashion.
But, that seems incredibly difficult.
I mean, what does “Get back to the normal business of living” really mean these days?
Look, we just came through one of the most vicious political seasons in decades. The wounds are still deep and, well, even on Monday, there were those who were insensitive enough to politicize these attacks.
As we have learned, however, terrorists will strike whether a Democrat or Republican is seated in the White House.
And, while we may also wrestle with why “they” hate “us,” we must also ask why “we” hate “us” because most acts of terrorism in this nation have been homegrown.
People remember, of course, the attack on the U.S. Marine Corps base in Beirut, the attack on the USS Cole, the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. We don’t, however, remember that terrorism here began on May 4, 1886 when a bomb was exploded during a labor rally at Chicago’s Haymarket Square. There have been attacks on the nation’s capital by radical groups from both sides of the political spectrum, there was the attack on a federal building in Oklahoma, an attack on the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Those were acts of terrorism as well.
We’re being told by the TV commentators and shrinks that what we need to do right now is to go back to “normal,” to go back to the mall, to go to the big public gatherings and sporting events as if nothing happened, to resume our lives as if nothing happened.
I’m not sure that is good advice.
I don’t think we should hole up in our little caves and refuse to go out in public, but I think we should reevaluate ourselves as a culture and do some soul searching instead of looking for a political, religious, or ethnic scapegoat, and work on ratcheting down the violence and hatred we generate among ourselves. This is not a time to point fingers at conservatives or liberals, this is not a time to isolate ourselves from the global community, and this is certainly not a time to contemplate the forfeiture of those certain inalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to mention privacy — that the Founding Fathers fought so valiantly to establish.
Rather, this should be a time of unity and, perhaps, some self-examination.
This nation pulled together, even if only for a short time, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. There is no reason to believe it won’t be able to do so now.
But this time, it would be nice if that sense of unity stuck.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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