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My Boston Marathon Thoughts

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A Party Earth employee's first-hand account

My Boston Marathon Thoughts

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Apr 18, 2013 —  I’m a proud graduate of Boston University. I feel privileged to call myself a Terrier and have from the moment I stepped onto the BU campus for my freshman orientation. Boston U was anything and everything a student could ask for in a school. The sense of community was probably the main reason I never became too homesick for my family and friends back in Chicago. 

Similarly, the city of Boston was the perfect setting for my collegiate years. There’s a reason that one in five Beantown residents are college students. There’s an undeniable energy about the place where the famous Tea Party occurred and the idea of freedom took shape in America. As students, we felt free in Boston. Free to make mistakes, free to fall in love, free to make friends from across the world, free to change majors only to change three more times before graduating.

I was giddier than an eight-year-old on his way to Disneyworld when I boarded my redeye flight to Boston on April 10th. In a sense, I was going home. Not only that, I was going back on one of my – and all of my friends’ – favorite weekends. I would be in Boston on Marathon Monday 2013. I had to force myself to sleep on the plane.

My first time back to Boston in essentially two years since I walked at graduation was even more fun than expected. And then Monday rolled around.

We were all scared when we started getting text messages asking us if we were okay. We had no idea what was going on. The phone lines were down. We couldn’t call anyone. Slowly, as we started to gather more details, and made sure all of our friends in Boston with us were okay, we made our way back to one of my friend’s apartments. We gathered around the TV and saw the horrific images of the blasts that had occurred just miles away from where we sat.

My first thought was that these cowards who were responsible for the massacre ruined our day. Marathon Monday was our special day, when we’d play beer pong in the morning and go cheer on complete strangers with shouts of encouragement, all the while trying to hand them a cold brew for their hard work.

Then I realized it wasn’t just our day. It was everyone’s day. It was a day when the whole city felt as free as us college students. I quickly remembered I wasn’t a student anymore, but somehow, that day I felt like I was. Patriots’ Day and the synonymous Marathon Monday make you feel warm and fuzzy.  

Soon, my heart went out to the families of the victims and to all who were injured. My heart would especially sink when I later heard that Lu Lingzi, part of my BU family, had passed.

The unchangeable, cold reality of what had just happened hit me as I boarded my flight back to Los Angeles on the Tuesday after Marathon Monday. As chance would have it, I sat next to a 28-year-old teacher from Houston who had completed the marathon shortly before the blasts.

We got to talking and I told her I was a BU grad. She immediately mentioned how fantastic the crowd support was. She said that she didn’t care if people were drunk and yelling or simply sober and standing. To her, it made a difference. The crowd’s support made her want to run faster and finish the damn thing so that she could get her medal and get out to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Beantown. She attested that the conviction of the masses in Boston made a bigger difference on her journey to the finish line than any other race she had run.

I found solace in that. And inspiration. I knew right then that no matter what, next year’s Boston Marathon had to be louder and prouder than any other year. I still haven’t processed everything, but I know that we can’t let what happened change the moxie of the helpful students, kids, adults, and visitors who make Marathon Monday so special.

Everyone deserves to see Boston – and Marathon Monday – the way I saw it as a Boston University student. Runners should stand tall and smile as they give high fives to buzzed MIT, Harvard, Boston College, Northeastern, and dozens of other students from hundreds of other Beantown schools. Conversely, students should feel safe and carefree as they masterfully perform their sacred duty of propelling runners to the finish line.

It’s okay to be angry, scared, sad, and somewhat lost right now. But by this time next year, let’s show the world that no one can take away one of the most special days in the birthplace of American Freedom.

At the 2014 Boston Marathon, let’s run faster, cheer louder, and feel as free as freshmen at Boston’s many fine universities and colleges.

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