Sunday 28 December 2014

United we stand: Bostonians unite in their quest for peace

By Caitlin McBride in Boston

Published 17/04/2013 | 06:34

The city of Boston is struggling to digest the incomprehensible tragedy facing them

Peace - that is the message on everybody’s lips. After unspeakable tragedy at what should have been a day of celebration, the famed Boston city marathon, Bostonians are simply hoping for life to resume to normal.

Last night, at a candlelight vigil in Boston Common, hundreds gathered for hours to remember those who tragically lost their lives at the bombing, and for the hundreds whose lives have been forever changed.

People of all ages - families, children, teenagers, students - and those of all races have come together in determination that this “act of terror” will not break their spirit.

As I approach the vigil, I see a man sits solemnly on a park bench, holding his candle in deep thought. Others greet each other with hugs so tight, you can clearly see just how lucky they feel to be safe in the arms of those they love.

On what would otherwise be a beautiful Spring night, a cloud of sadness hangs.

Couples hold hands, friends stick tightly together as they try to digest this inexplicable tragedy.

There’s a noticeable police presence at the vigil, as well as outside the many college dormitories scattered throughout the city, the subways and other areas of mass congregations.

Religious dominations of every variety have been holding special ceremonies in honour of the bomb victims and a special multi-faith ceremony is being held in the centre tomorrow, which is expected to attract a crowd of thousands.

Posters still hang on the street lamps of the city for the 2013 Boston Marathon - a poster, which, just three days ago, would have likely gone unnoticed. Now, it simply stands as a reminder of tragedy. Of incomprehensible loss, and fear.

The American news reports are now focusing on the first responders, honouring their heroic efforts to save as many lives as possible, and deservedly crediting them as to why the list of casualties wasn’t higher. It was their work that saved countless lives, and to those directly affected, it is a debt that can never be repaid.

I watched as Liz Norton cried in despair at the fact that both of her sons, JP and Paul both lost their legs at the bombing. Her life, their lives, will never be the same again. “I wish I could just take their place,” she said, in the emotional tone that only a mother facing such devastation could.

Tragic eight-year-old Martin Richard’s face is permanently plastered on the memories of the Boston people. His huge grin - complete with missing front teeth - is an image that I, and most, can’t seem to shake. His mother is still in critical condition, as is his sister. His father, William, is facing unimaginable devastation as he tries to piece his life together. His life will never be the same again. And yet, he too took time to thank the first responders as the "true heroes".

In the Richards' neighbourhood of Dorchester, a separate vigil is held honouring his brief life, one cut far too short.

The White House has declared this as an “act of terror”, but the people of Boston refuse to be terrified. Instead, in a true testament to their fighting spirit, they are focusing on peace.

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