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Monday, April 21, 2014

Monumental Monday: Proud to Support Boston on Marathon Monday

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Thought for the Day: I just came home from Boston. While there I had the privilege to sit at Mile 20 of the Boston Marathon in Newton MA in the middle of Heartbreak Hill. I watched as the wheel chair competitors passed, the female front runners, the male front runners and then the waves of runners from around the country and around the world who came out in full force to support Boston as they took back the Marathon.

     I had planned to leave Boston Sunday night, but decided to stay to see the Marathon for the first time. Surely, I had mixed emotions. I have worked with trauma survivors as well as watched multiple TV reports about the ordeals people have been confronting in the year since terror stuck the Marathon. I did not know what to expect. How would they increase security? Could terror strike again? However, I wanted to lend my support. The mood in Newton was festive, upbeat and supportive.  If anyone was frightened, it surely was not apparent. It was as if everyone was coming out to show the world that terror cannot stop them from living their lives to the fullest. There were families with children on bicycles and pogo sticks; babies in strollers. In droves, they kept arriving carrying folding chairs, smiling and laughing. Souvenir stands and carts laden with hats, banners, and horns lined Commonwealth Avenue.

     Within minutes of arriving, we saw four policemen walking dogs sniffing for suspicious objects. There were also police riding on bicycles, motorcycles or in cars. One of the guardsmen from a unit of National Guard from Maine patrolling the section near where we were sitting told us that units had come from across the nation to help protect the race. Many of the people in the crowd wore Boston Strong or Watertown Strong T-shirts. There were hundreds of volunteers in blue jackets waiting to give water to the runners. Although I cannot compare the crowd and the experience to previous years, my daughter, who lives close to the route felt that there were many more people cheering the runners on from the early hours of the morning than in prior years.

     About twenty minutes after we arrived, police cars and motorcycles passed by and the crowd started applauding and cheering. Within seconds, the 1st wheelchair competitor came into view. The crowd cheered and applauded every runner. It was like a wave at a football game, but it was a wave of noise and support which followed every participant as they moved down the road. Some of the disabled cyclists sat, others somehow moved their bikes while lying down. Disabled runners with prothetic legs, some who lost their limbs a year ago in the bombings, ran by. You could not help but be inspired by their tenacity and ability to overcome adversity. Seeing the wheelchair and disabled participants and endless numbers of runners raising money for various causes and those who have no chance of winning was more meaningful than seeing the front running men and women of the race.

     Today, the runners, as well as the crowd who cheered them on, stood up to terrorism with resilience and fortitude. A year ago, I came to Boston as a psychologist to help out after the bombings. Today, I was fortunate to have been able to take part in supporting this historic event as Boston took back the Marathon. We are all Boston Strong and Boston has every reason to be proud.

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