This is Radio Boston, I’m Meghna Chakrabarti.
It’s been two weeks since police arrested suspected marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Two weeks that in many ways have felt like an eternity for this city. And I’ll include myself in that.
Since those bombs exploded on Boylston Street, time has stretched and collapsed, blurred and stood still. When I step away from this microphone and my work, I admit, there have been moments when it’s been hard to find my bearings.
That’s one of the reasons why I hadn’t yet been able to bring myself to go to the informal memorial that sprung up in Copley Square.
Well, today I went.
The clear blue sky, the drone of traffic, the occasional siren, the hum of workers dodging around many tourists. The life around Copley Square is beautifully, breathtakingly, defiantly, normal in comparison to the atrocious abnormality that we’ve experienced in the past few weeks.
Maybe it was that, the tenacity of life and the love, fellowship, and downright optimism evident in that memorial.
The hundreds of pairs of shoes, the stuffed animals, the flowers and handwritten notes from visitors who come to Boston around the world. All of that made my half-hour in Copley Square more emotional than I could have imagined.
And I wasn’t the only one.
Here’s the audio postcard I recorded just a few hours ago.
ACT (FRED ZOOLEGGER): “My name is Fred Zoolegger, and I’m from Coventry, Rhode Island. When I came up here, and I wanted to see this here because I’ve run Boston 11 times in all. But seeing this here, it makes my eyes almost — I get emotional, which I’m doing a little bit right now. I’ve run 11 Bostons altogether. I hope to be running Boston next year because I’m going to be 75 years old. I want to show those people that a 75-year-old man or older, we’re still going to be strong next year. We’re going to be there.”
ACT (CHARLES MONAHAN): “What do I think? Take a look around you and how many people you see around here and everyone’s tears are the same color”
ACT (CHAKRABARTI): “Can you give me your name and where you’re from, please?”
ACT (MONAHAN): “Charlie Monahan and I’m from Braintree, Massachusetts. You don’t take away our runs. I’m sorry, it’s just not done. I think each of the old folks will agree with me. I ran Boston last year. I wanted to try to get a bib this year. I’m a 100 percent disabled Vietnam vet. I’m 73 now. I’m totally amazed how my thinking has just done a 180 as to humanity. As part of my problem all these years is Vietnam. I’ve seen people at their worst. I’ve now officially seen people at their best.”
ACT (CHAKRABARTI): So here hanging on a lamppost is a New York Yankees jersey, and attached to it is a note that says, ‘In times as these, we become one team. We are one nation, may prayer and time heal all. We are Boston Strong. With all respect, Lyman, Steinbrenner, all Yankees families, New York loves Boston.’
ACT (MELISSA KALE): “My name’s Melissa Kale and I’m from Portland, Oregon but I’m currently from Brighton. It definitely touched me. I’m a mental health counselor. So I feel very moved by what went on. And I actually ran the last 5 miles of the race to come down here for the first time to check it out.
ACT (CHAKRABARTI ): “I see you’re wearing the shirt Boston Strong: Five Miles, the last five miles of the race.”
ACT (KALE): “We’ll decide when our marathon ends.”
ACT (CHAKRABARTI ): “What are your favorite parts of what you see here?”
ACT (KALE): “The shoes. I think it’s really cool that people left their shoes, a lot of people who ran. And just the prayer candles. The different faiths that are being represented here. You know it’s not just the Christian faith. And all the patriotic symbols. It’s just moving.
ACT (CHAKRABARTI ): “Thank you so much. Thanks a lot.”
ACT (CHAKRABARTI): “And here, attached to a bench and surrounded by stuffed animals and flowers and running shoes, is a sign that says: This is a quote from Leonard Bernstein that the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra is hanging on to, ‘This will be our reply to violence, to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before.’”
ACT (ALICIA LAWTON): “Hi, my name’s Alicia Lawton, and I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s tragic. I know victims and I work as a nurse, so I’ve had experience with the victims. I don’t know, it’s impossible to really kind of put your mind around all the human suffering. And, I don’t know, there’s just really no way to describe it. I’ve never been more proud in my life to be a resident here because the people really, truly came together and did everything that was necessary and I think as a community, we’re really going to heal from this, and this is where it all starts. Once all of this is gone, I think this is all going to be something that we keep in our hearts forever. And we’re all going to learn from this experience and no matter what, we’re all going to be stronger for it.”
ACT (MEGHNA): “And here, hanging on a barricade, surrounded by dozens and dozens and dozens of pairs of running shoes is a sign written by a 12-year-old named Alex. And the sign says, ‘I wrote this for the victims of this tragedy.’ Sweetly misspelled t-r-a-g-i-t-y. ‘I wrote this for Boston. I love Boston. Boston is strong, the bombers are not.”
Those are some of the notes I read and people I met today in Copley Square.