Today’s tragic attack on the Boston Marathon was unsettling for me largely because I lived in that city, I studied at the Boston Public Library and I was constantly out of change on that street and unable to use the bus when I was at Northeastern University for the 2nd half of the 80’s! I lived on Beacon Hill from 2000 to 2001 and I still frequented some favorite places down there, including, of course, my beloved library. To see a scene that could have been played out in Baghdad or Tripoli or Kandahar along that most glorious route was saddening. However, I am also reminded of one of my favorite times in my life when my Mother took us kids to the top of Heartbreak Hill to watch the race in 1975. Being that I am inflicted with a need to raise my hand at every volunteer opportunity, I saw a chance to meet famous runners by helping hand them water. 1975 was a great year. Viet Nam had wound down. The family was together and happy. It was a gorgeous day – like they write about. It was sunny, just warm enough and with blue skies and fair weather clouds. I was hoping to give water to Bill Rodgers, the famed athlete who would go on to win the Boston, New York and Fukuoka marathons. He defined home town hero for me – he was as much the face for the sport of running as any man or woman, and today still is. He has sort of an All American look. There I was, poised to possibly hand him hydration! To make a long story short I had no idea how to hand a running man a paper cup of water. I don’t even know if I gave it to him or some other random runner. What I do remember was almost tripping the poor bastard that came across me and splashing him with the entire contents of the Dixie cup. I won’t put in print what was said. I don’t even think I remember clearly what was said because I am pretty certain outside of my Grandfather the CeeBee I had never heard that combination of angry explicative language before.
Luckily, later in life, analytics panned out. I was not fit for water station aide! So, I’ll always have a beautiful memory of the Boston Marathon. I hope we can all remember that such memories bolster us all and nothing terrorists can do will shake our faith in our way of life. Lesser people may cower, but Massachusetts Men, Women and children are made of stern stuff. The rest of my countrymen, too, are unshakeable in the face of these types of gestures. My sympathies go to the victims and I hope my words to the rest of the country and the World are heard: be strong and remain resolute in our values and our freedom.