The Boston Marathon is near and dear to my heart. One of the greatest sporting events in the country weaves through the suburbs as it climbs closer and closer to the heart of the city. Runners from all over the world travel to be a part of this elite and prestigious race. As a child, I would stand along the sidelines and cheer on the runners while as an adult, I had the luxury of watching from my office window and scurrying down to see family and friends cross the finish line.
All luxuries and liberties disappeared last year when two bombs went off at the finish line. Fear and anxiety gripped the city of Boston as spectators in person and at home searched for their loved ones and a few families grappled with the reality that their loved ones would never return.
In one of the most devastating moments for Boston, the city relied on its strength. Bostonians rallied behind the families who had lost loved ones and survivors who had lost limbs. #BostonStrong became our new slogan and cities and countries supported Boston from afar.
For months, the city has been preparing for the one-year tribute as well as the 118th Boston Marathon coming up this Monday. I brainstormed for a while on where my April #take12trips would be, but the funny thing was, when the time came to travel I did not want to be anywhere but Boston. I wanted to be at home, surrounded by the people and the energy that was making Boston stronger one year later. My #take12trips for April took me to the Boston Public Library, one of my favorite places in Boston. This time it was for the “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial.”
In one of the greatest outpourings of support our city has ever seen, thousands of people made a makeshift memorial at the finish line. Crosses, signs, notes, pictures and sneakers of marathon runners lined Copley Square and took on a life of its own. When it was dismantled in June 2013, it was given to the Boston City Archives, who created this memorial at the Boston Public Library to commemorate the one-year anniversary.
The exhibition covers only one large room, but the messages contained within it are powerful. Crosses with photos of ones who were lost remind us of the sorrow and despair of the events. As you move around the room the encouraging letters and offerings of condolences from strangers serve as a reminder of the hope and love in the world. Lastly, the potted trees filled with messages for the future remind us of the strength and resilience this city has displayed over the last year and will continue to display in the days to come.
I had a personal connection, as Max was running the Boston Marathon last year (in his first ever marathon), and was stopped at the 25.7 mile mark, just a half mile from the finish line on Boylston Street. While thankfully he was not hurt, those uncertain moments and the anguish that our city faced on 4.15.13 will always be remembered. Even though, he proclaimed he would be a “one and done” marathon runner, Max is lacing up his sneakers again on the 3rd Monday in April to run alongside a record-breaking 36,000 runners to prove that one year later we are still Boston Strong.
“Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial” is a free exhibit open at the Boston Public Library through Sunday, May 11th.