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Boston Marathon Bombings: Our History Will Be A Guide For The Future

So, what to make of this?

You know it's almost embarrassing how great Patriots’ Day is here in Massachusetts.

You want historical reenactments? Ours start at the crack of dawn with the ringing of the Old Belfry bell next to Battle Green in Lexington, where earnest citizens, dressed as either the Minutemen Company or His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot, go at it in the reenactment of the 1774 Battle of Lexington. I lived in the town a million years ago and was thrown out of bed by the cannon booms.

At about the same time, thousands of runners begin boarding buses for the drive out to Hopkinton for the start of the marathon. They've been here all weekend, as much a sign of spring as crocuses and yellow slickers. I saw them at the Sox game on Sunday: they stood out. No offense Red Sox fans, but they obviously hadn't been sitting around watching baseball games — they were in such great shape.

I don't know if all the runners will decide to run again next year. But if they do, they will be, to me, as heroic as those farmers years ago in Lexington. And we who live here pledge to be there as well. Screaming our heads off.

There was another Sox game yesterday, the only one in major league baseball played in the morning, out of respect for the marathon. Fenway Park is just a stones throw from the finish line so the two events tend to blend. In fact one of my favorite memories involves both.

I was a young director working the game for the old TV-38, when word came that local favorite, Billy Rodgers, was coming down Commonwealth Avenue. He was going to win the Boston Marathon.

I dropped my cables and started running to the old Eliot Lounge on Comm. Ave, which bartender Tommy Leonard had turned into a favorite watering hole for runners, including his best friend Billy.

As I ran, I heard a clicking noise. Right behind me was Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, in full uniform, glove in hand, cleats clacking on the pavement. He was running to cheer his pal Billy on, which we did, screaming our heads off as he rounded the corner to the finish line.

Yesterday, when I saw the explosions, I thought for a split second of the musket smoke shrouding the Lexington Green. Who could have imagined that runners and their supporters would suddenly seem as brave?

Two grown sons from the Norden family of Wakefield, Mass. each lost a leg. An 8-year-old from Dorchester was killed, his 7-year-old sister lost a leg.

This morning I talked to a friend, Dr. Ron Medzon, an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center. He said a young woman begged him to save her leg, "I'm a world class dancer," she said. He had to tell her, it may be too far gone.

Then he said something marvelous.

Whoever did this, they picked the wrong marathon. They picked the wrong city.

I asked him how he was feeling. Was there a sense of something being "over" in Boston? He said, “No. I'm angry. I'm angry at the temerity of someone who would do this. But you know what? If they wanted to kill a lot of people they picked the wrong marathon. They picked the wrong city. We must have saved 20 people today just at our hospital. There are five others.”

I don't know if all the runners will decide to run again next year. But if they do, they will be, to me, as heroic as those farmers years ago in Lexington. And we who live here pledge to be there as well. Screaming our heads off.

As Dr. Medzon said earlier, whoever did this, they picked the wrong marathon. They picked the wrong city.


Editor's note: A similar version of this essay was originally posted on hereandnow.wbur.org.

This program aired on April 16, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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