Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's Personal

 President Obama said it: “It’s personal.”

His words resonated with me as though I was once again the young American Airlines flight attendant who walked each day from Copley Square back to my apartment on Beacon Street. Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John F. Kennedy and his brothers walked those same streets. They knew every sidewalk crack and how to avoid stepping on one. 

The streets of Boston were personal to them.

When I learned on 9/11 that American Airlines Flight 11 was doomed shortly after the seat belt sign was turned off, I felt a deep kinship to those working that flight as though I was also on board. For a long time I had flown between Boston and Washington, so when the second AA plane, Flight 77, left Logan and flew into the Pentagon it felt as if I were in the middle of a bad dream that was not going to fade upon awakening.

It was personal.

Last week as I watched chaos unfold in real time on the same streets that my feet had once trod, my heart broke bit by bit with each video frame. Although I have not lived in Boston for many years, while I was there the city embedded itself on my soul and became a part of me. I am trying to fathom why two misguided brothers turned my streets into a bloody battlefield. They were not patriots; they were not marathon runners; they were not celebrating Patriot’s Day with other residents of The Cradle of Liberty. They had not even lived long enough to bitch about the IRS. And yet, their hateful act was so unbelievably heinous that I will never be able to understand how they could do such a thing.

The attack was personal.

Normally, I write a humor column revealing the lighter side of life, but I am angry and bereft of humor today. Clever thoughts elude me. I can’t get beyond the question that continues to haunt every decent American: How could they do such a horrible thing?

I don’t run anymore unless I have to. Truth be told, I was never marathon material. At my age, I’m happy that I can still walk. But God willing on Patriot’s Day, 2014, I intend to be one of thousands standing on the streets of Boston even if I have to walk from Georgia. I won’t run in the race, obviously, but I will cheer loudly for those who do. In spite of what happened this year, my guess is that more runners than ever will participate in the marathon. What better way to deliver a Gotcha! to the ones who managed to break our hearts but can never break our spirit.

Boston is now personal to all of us.