“We just heard from Oscar,” Stefanie told me, “He and his crew are all fine.”
The news about the terrorist bombing in Boston had just broken, and Stef was working the bar. We were all calling the club to see who had checked in because most of the staff was at the race.
“What about Joe?” I asked Stef about her boyfriend, Joe McCain. “Is he working today? Is he downtown?” (Joe is an officer with the Somerville Police.)
“I think right now he’s on the border between Somerville and Boston,” she said, “They’re trying to make sure no one slips over the line undetected . . . I don’t want to say too much about what they’re doing.”
“What about John B.?” I asked.
“No . . . haven’t heard from John yet,” she continued, “But your mom called from Maine. I told her I spoke with you earlier.”
OK, so my mom knew I was alright . . . I’d call her later. I thought of Taylor, the blues jam drummer. His daughter, Elyce, ran in the Marathon last year. Were they all waiting for her at the finish line?
“No, she’s fine . . . we’re all OK,” Taylor answered over the phone, “Elyce decided not to run this year. Lucky for us, I guess . . . we would have been standing right where the first bomb went off.”
I called Stef again, and by now they’d heard from John. He was the last one. Everyone was accounted for and OK.
“My sister and my niece were working in the medical tent at the finish line,” John said when I finally got hold of him, “They volunteer every year.”
John was in a bar further down the race course when the news broke on the TV. Suddenly a joint filled with almost 200 loud, raucous patrons celebrating the marathon went completely silent. “You could have heard a pin drop,” John said, “The only sound in the place was the voice on TV.”
He immediately ran outside to get better reception and began calling his sister . . . but like everyone else, his cell phone wasn’t working.
I told him the cell service had been turned off in that area to prevent anyone from using a cell phone to detonate more bombs. I’d seen that report on the national news.
“Doubt that was it,” John said, “Probably just the towers simply being overwhelmed. All that sudden traffic . . . with everyone calling at once to check on people they knew.”
Turns out John was right . . . there was no shutdown of service, just an unprecedented user overload.
He told me that when he finally did manage to contact his sister by text message, she replied with a description of the horrific injuries coming into the medical tent. “People have lost limbs, an arm or a leg,” his sister’s words said. “Some are missing a foot, a hand, or fingers . . . it’s so awful . . . sometimes there’s nothing left but the bone.”
“Any way I can help?” John texted her again, “I can be there in five minutes.”
“NO!” his sister texted back immediately, “Do not come down here!!!!”
“They’re trying to get everyone out of the area … there’s nothing you can do here … it’s better you get out of Boston as fast as you can.”
Over one hundred seventy people suffered horrible traumatic injuries from the bombing attack, and three of the victims lost their lives . . . including an eight-year-old boy from Dorchester, MA.
A year earlier, Martin Richard had held up a sign calling for no more people in the world to be needlessly hurt. “It’s unreal,” one of the boy’s neighbors said, “It’s unreal that this little boy will never come home again.”
Most of us are over-saturated with the horror of the attack, but today I’d like to look at a different side of the tragedy. Here’s a very small sample of the stories and pictures of selfless heroism and solidarity that have been circulating on the web.
Dr. Vivek Shah was just 25 yards away from the finish line when the first bomb exploded — he was immediately called on to apply his medical skills. “It’s nothing that you can ever describe,” he said. “In all of my medical training, I’ve never seen anything like the amount of trauma I saw yesterday on the sidewalk there.” (Source: CNN News)
Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the finish line for a group of runners racing on behalf of fallen American soldiers. His son had died in Iraq. When the first bomb went off across the street, Carlos rushed to help the survivors, including a man whose leg had been blown off. “I kept talking to him. I kept saying, ‘Stay with me, stay with me,’ ” Arredondo told Maine’s Portland Press Herald.
Bruce Mendelsohn, a former Army medic, was attending a Marathon party in a nearby building. He immediately ran outside to assist the wounded.
Freelance photographer Andrea Catalano saw spectators run into their homes and come back with blankets and water for the victims. One woman was sitting on the sidewalk uncontrollably sobbing because she was unable to contact her husband who was at the finish line. Someone found her a working phone. (Source CNN News.)
An injured woman in the hospital was looking for the ex-marine who had saved her life. Known to her only by his self-identification as “Sgt Tyler,” and by the noticeable scar on his left arm, the man had told her: “You’re going to have a scar, but you’re going to be OK. It’ll be like my scar.” (He’s now been identified as Sgt. Tyler Dodd, an Afghan war veteran. Source New York Daily News.)
Some Boston Marathon runners finished the 26.2 mile grueling run . . . and then immediately after the attack ran another two miles to the nearest hospital to donate blood. Are you kidding me?
At a Boylston Street establishment, The Forum, patrons said that many of the staff rushed out onto the street carrying towels to assist the wounded. Others from the staff directed all the guests to safety. (The day had begun at The Forum with a fundraiser for former New England Patriot player Joe Andruzzi’s non-profit charity which raises money for cancer victims.)
Speaking of Joe Andruzzi . . .
In a newscast from WHDH TV (Boston), we initially see a young girl struggling to help one bombing attack victim to a medical tent by dragging her over her shoulders. (Click the picture to see the story.)
At that point, Joe rushed up and quickly carried the woman to medical personnel. (As a side note, Andurzzi’s three brother were among the first fire-fighters on the scene in NYC on 9/11.)
And it wasn’t only the first-responders and medical personnel in downtown Boston who rushed to help. As word of the terrorist tragedy spread, people from all over the Boston area began offering aid to anyone who needed shelter, food or drink. They began offering places to stay in their homes and apartments.
With tens of thousands of visitors in Boston from foreign countries, some now found themselves shut out of their hotels, which were quickly locked down for security reasons. These runners had no place to go, and were left without any resources in an unfamiliar city.
Ali Hatfield, a Kansas City, Missouri resident who had just finished the race, quickly discovered that with her hotel now locked down she was left out on the street. Hatfield said she was overwhelmed until — “A sweet woman opened her home to us and gave us food, shelter and beer!” (Source: CNN News)
“We figure this is the least we can do,” said Heather Carey, who was offering a couch in the Boston University-area apartment she shares with her roommates. “I saw a website with many others offering their spaces like we did,” she said, “It is awesome to see so many people helping.” (Source: CNN News)
Sandeep Karnik pledged his one-bedroom condo near Fenway Park, offering any needing stranger his bed for the night. “I can sleep on the couch,” said the 37-year-old Karnik, “This is unfathomable, terrible. If there is somebody in need, I can take them in.” (Source: WQAD8, Illinois)
There were hundreds and hundreds of offers of shelter, food and drink posted on Facebook pages.
A Back Bay restaurant tweeted the following offer:
Steven Colbert, in his always spot-on mix of humor and thinly-disguised serious note, quipped that the people responsible for this horrific act didn’t know who they were messing with . . . see his hilarious, yet strangely heart-rending comments by clicking the video below. (Thanks to John B. for steering me to this clip)
In Brooklyn, NY light projections were used to display a sign of support on the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (The quote is from Boston son Martin Luther King.)
And the Boston Red Sox’s centuries-old rival, the New York Yankees had this response to the attack on their sworn baseball antagonists — a banner of solidarity, “United We Stand” — on the front of Yankee Stadium. (During their game against Arizona Monday night, the Yankees also played Boston’s famous eighth-inning Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline” following a moment of silence between innings.)
It was an emotional moment on the ice Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins played the first professional sports contest in Boston after the attack. Fourteen seconds into the scheduled singer’s rendition of the national anthem, the crowd took over. (Click the picture below to to watch and listen.)
One last story . . .
A couple who had planned to get married right after running the Boston Marathon decided to complete their vows despite the terrorism. “We were hesitant. We wanted to be cautious. We didn’t want anything to destroy the plans that we had made,” the groom told ABC News. After thinking it over, they decided they wouldn’t let the fanatics stop them.
Monday’s bombing was a senseless, disgraceful, cowardly attack on innocent people . . . but the quality of everyone’s response? . . . words fail.
– – – – –
(Update: 4/19, 8:00 AM.) At 6:30 this morning everyone in the neighborhood got a recorded emergency phone message from the City of Cambridge, which said in part: “Due to the ongoing police investigation in Watertown (MA) and surrounding area, police are advising that all residents shelter in place. MBTA service is suspended including the Red Line, Green Line and all bus routes. Please stay vigilant and call 911 immediately if you have had any suspicious activity in your area.”
I know just before I went to bed (5:30 AM), there was breaking news that one of the bombing suspects had been killed in a Watertown shootout with the police that involved not only the two suspects’ gunfire, but bombs that they threw. The other suspect is still at large in the area.
I’m quite safe here . . . wish I could say the same about Joe McCain and other police personnel who have been up all night looking for this guy. An MIT security officer was killed in an earlier shootout with the suspects in Cambridge, and a MBTA officer was wounded in separate incident with the suspects, but is expected to survive. As much as I’d like to see both of these bastards dead, I hope they capture the remaining suspect alive . . . so he is forced to face his victims.
(Update: 4/19, 1:00 PM.) Some controlled explosions are to take place soon at the suspect’s home in Cambridge, MA. They’ve discovered something in our neighborhood they want to dispose of . . . and the lock-down continues in the Boston area.
Thanks to David Hayden from The Hospitality Formula Network and Best Restaurant Blogs for his offer of support and assistance to the Boston restaurant worker community. David has substantial contacts and connections nationwide. (I’m referring David to Patrick Maguire at Server not Servant . . . this is much more his area . . . he’s championed many good causes for Boston’s restaurant workers in the past.)
(Update: 4/19, 11:30 PM.) It’s been a long day … a police standoff in Watertown, and a lock-down of the Boston area since this early this morning … but they finally captured the second suspect. And at this point he’s alive, although injured. Three young lives were lost far too early … the maimed and injured from a senseless attack continue their struggle … but at least they got the guys who did this …
Kudos Mike–well written!! You captured the extraordinary trepidation, anguish, and fortitude showed by Bostonians and the American people. Acts of terrorism do not thwart our charity, courage, compassion or resiliency. Despite the horrific, demonic plots against us we manage to maintain our humanitarianism and benevolence. Americans truly are exceptional –“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit”- Ben Williams. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
This post had me on the verge of tears several times, but it was also thankfully uplifting. It is a beautiful tribute. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.
Mike, Great piece on a world-shaking event ! We are entering a new world; it will be a challenging one.
Colleen: Thanks, Colleen … and thanks for the suggestions (as always.) 🙂 It’s been a hell of a few days, hasn’t it. I may never kid you about living out there in “Cow Hampshire” again. (Or maybe I still will.) Talk with you later tonight.
Llylak: Amen, Lly … it was a horrible event, but it brought out the things that hold us together, and make it all worthwhile. Always good to hear from you.
Dorene: Well, welcome, Dorene! Great to see you here. Thank you so much for reading, and commenting … I didn’t know you were still reading my blog. (Dorene and I went to high school together … she was the smartest one in the class, besides being cute.)
What an uplifting post! I keep going back and re-reading!
Tough times in Beantown, but the way these people stood up is too cool. This was a great post.
Susan P: Thanks so much for reading, Susan … and for taking the time to comment. For two days I just kept going through all the web posts and the way everyone responded to this tragedy left me in awe.
Starbucks 8294: It was amazing wasn’t it my friend … how even passers-by showed their true colors.
What more can be said then USA USA USA. Boston’s got the support of the country.
We were at TD Garden. It was the balls, never seen anything like it. The Bruins video has 2 million hits in three days.
Wonderfully written, capturing all the trials, tribulations and depth of the American spirit. Glad the worst part is over. Prayers for all the victims and families who lost there loved ones too early. Many, Many Heroes!
Case: Couldn’t have said it better, Case (USA, USA, USA) … although I did like Stephen Colbert’s “Boston Strong!”
DAbertini: That must have been something, DA … my friend Colleen said when she watched that video, she almost started crying.
JT: I was just glad to hear you weren’t down there this year, JT. I’d remembered you saying something last year about being at the finish line to congratulate Elyce. On the run … see you at the Jam.