Original Photo © Samantha K, “Grilled Cheese (& Other Things That Make My World Go ‘Round)”
When tragedy happens in your own backyard, it slices through to the very core of your being—a tiny sharp needle, cutting through skin and bone to your soul and injecting a cold terror unlike anything you’ve felt before.
It makes it real. The death, destruction, horror that happens in the world every day. In a heartbeat, tragedy changes from something you watch on the nightly news to something that has happened in the buildings you’re familiar with, in the streets you’ve walked before, to people you know.
Columbine. 9/11. The Aurora shooting. Sandy Hook. Fort Hood. Scores of other shootings, attacks, terrorism.
You watch these things happen on TV, and you think it seems real. You watch people fleeing in terror, screaming, crying, blood-stained clothing and visible injuries. You think you know what it’s like to be watching the footage and making desperate phone calls to family and friends in the area, hoping you won’t reach their voicemails. You think you know what it’s like to walk those same streets again and feel a flood of emotions so strong you can’t hold them in.
You think you know. Until it happens, and then you realize these things you thought you knew, you didn’t know at all.
But there’s something else you didn’t know. How do these people pull themselves together after these tragedies? How do the people in these towns, in these cities, in these countries, leave home every day having seen what they’ve seen? How do they overcome the fear, the anger, the sorrow? How do they face the world knowing, really knowing, that what they thought would never happen here…has happened?
Now you know. Now, we know.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
We came together as a community. We opened our homes, our businesses, to the people affected that day and the week that followed. We gave donations, we gave blood. We rallied at sporting events—something that defines our city and the people who live in it and the people who love it—sang our hearts out from bleacher seats and couches alike during The Star-Spangled Banner at that first Bruins game, choked back tears and cheered during Big Papi’s speech at Fenway. We created a memorial for Sean Collier, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and all those injured from the blasts—a memorial so beautiful, so vast, that the city is cataloging each and every piece to be preserved in the archives.
We cried, we mourned. We still cry, we still mourn. But we never gave up, never will give up. We didn’t stay down when they knocked us down. We stood up determined, resilient, stronger than we were before.
That’s how you pull yourself together, how you face the world in the wake of terror, how you overcome the pain and the sadness and the grief. You find a way to stay connected to your community. You attend the memorial at the Boston Public Library, you wear your “Boston Strong” t-shirt or your Boston Marathon windbreaker, you hold up “B Strong” banners at Bruins and Red Sox games and cheer for everything it means to be Boston.
You take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.
Boston Strong isn’t a slogan, isn’t a selling point. It’s the new way of life for our community. It embodies—in two perfect words—how we have recovered from the bombings, and how we will continue to recover. It’s how we will survive. It’s how we will overcome.
Boston Strong means just that. We are Boston. We are strong. We will persevere.