The Boston Marathon, more than perhaps any athletic event, is a celebration of human spirit — of the athletic grace God grants to some, of the sheer determination given to others.
No terrorist’s bombs can extinguish that flame.
While the investigation is still in its early stages, don’t think twice about this: Monday’s horrific attack against the runners and spectators viewing the Boston Marathon was an act of terrorism.
Whether the perpetrators of this cowardly act turn out to be motivated by politics or religion, whether they were foreign or domestic matters little. Even if the bomber turns out to be a lone psychopath, the goal was the same: to take a day of joyous celebration and turn it into a scene of carnage, fear and death.
Two bombs exploded just before 3 p.m. near the marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street. The first blew up amid a crowd of spectators watching runners finish the 26.2-mile race about four hours and nine minutes after it began; the other exploded seconds later about 100 yards away.
And as the numbers of the dead and injured rose overnight and Tuesday — with three people, including an 8-year-old Dorchester boy, were killed, and with more than 175 others wounded, including his mother and little sister, all waiting to greet their husband and father at the finish line — the true toll of this shameful act became clear.
At Massachusetts General Hospital, Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, told the Associated Press, “This is something I’ve never seen in my 25 years here ... this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.” And in some ways, watching coverage of Monday’s events, indeed felt like we were looking at an act of war — with a number of our Gloucester and Cape Ann friends and neighbors — runners and spectators — on the front lines.
Yet, there is no cause, no political position, no gripe or grievance that justifies such attacks on innocent people. We know state and federal authorities will pursue whoever committed this outrageous assault on decency and civilized society. We encourage them to be relentless.
When those responsible are found, justice should be swift and meted out not only to the individuals directly responsible, but also to any who provided encouragement or support for the attack.
The marathon bomber or bombers may have achieved his or her immediate goals of killing and injuring innocent people and gaining national attention. But the attacker or attackers will soon learn something themselves.
American people do not bow before terrorists. Nor will the human spirit embodied in the Boston Marathon be cowed by these cowards who, on Monday, sought to forever change its spirit.
This race is held on the day that celebrates the courage and determination of the humble farmers, merchants and tradesmen — people who stood up, fought and won their independence from the greatest empire the world had yet known.
And a free people won’t be beaten by a few punks, even cowards with homemade bombs.