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One Month Later: Reflecting On The Boston Marathon Bombings

An essay by Radio Boston’s Anthony Brooks

One month after the bombings, I still can’t stop thinking about what happened that day. And know I’m not alone.

I want to stress that I was among the very fortunate. When the bombs exploded, I was a few blocks away: right here, safe in the WBUR studios. I might as well have been on the other side of the world. I was also lucky because nobody that I know or love was hurt or injured in those blasts — even though, like all of us, I feel and care deeply for those who were killed, injured, who lost children, limbs and and their sense of security for ever.

But one month on, what strikes me is how the attack and the violent week that followed, has left markers just about everywhere — and those marker make this city feel so much smaller. It’s not only that this community came together like one big family responding to an assault that felt so personal to so many of us. It’s that today, it feels as though there are physical reminders along so many of my usual routes through this city.

When I ride to work, my bike route takes me from East Somerville, through Cambridge, Central Square, and over the Charles. Before the bombings, it was a pleasant enough ride, sometimes a bit of a battle with traffic, but nothing that made me think terribly hard — beyond the pleasure of breathing the morning air.

Now it’s different.

I ride past a Somerville auto body shop, and I think — that’s where Tamerlan Tsarnaev worked. I head down Norfolk street, and think — this is where the Tsarnaev brothers lived. I head across Memorial Drive, and when I look to the right, I see the Shell station, and think — that’s where that brave car-jacking victim managed to escape and alert police, which began that final chase and bloody confrontation.

My 16-year-old daughter lives in Watertown — just a few blocks from the shoot-out that Sergeant MacLellan just described. She heard the gun-fire, and then saw the heavily armed police searching her back yard and garage early that morning. When I drive her home, it only takes the sight of a street sign — Webster, Dexter, Laurel, or Franklin — to prompt a comment between us. That’s where it happened. That’s where officer Donahue was almost killed. That’s where they finally captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

So the city feels smaller. Woven together by a series of physical monuments to those days of chaos fear, pain and loss — as well to the bravery and courage of so many.

I’m not sure when or if my daily ride past all those monuments will stop reminding me of what happened that day. In many ways, I don’t want it to — because I don’t want to forget.

At the same time, as I rode this morning, I was struck by how normal the world seemed. Kids on their way to school, bubbling with enthusiasm rather than fear. Shops open for business, rather than closed in a city-wide lock-down. Cops directing traffic, rather than chasing bombers.

A cool spring day, dawning with hope, and more evidence of a city’s resilience.


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Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

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